Sion Sono’s “Love Exposure”: Can you handle 4 hours of cult?

Yu is a young Christian growing up with his father, Tetsu, who became a fanatical priest after the early death of his wife. Having to confess every single day, Yu has to invent supposed sins to appease his father, who believes it a sin to not have something to confess. When Tetsu finally discovers the truth, Yu decides to commit as many “serious” sins as he can, while searching for a woman to love that fits the Madonna archetype. Eventually he stumbles upon Kaori, and Aya Koike and her gang, while his father has trouble with Kaori Fujiwara, a woman who seems to wish to become a Christian.

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A cult epic

In this 4-hour cult epic, Sono incorporates elements of adventure, comedy, drama, social satire, parody, romance and soft porn, while dealing with themes like religion, family, love, sex, adolescence, hedonism and guilt, in one of his most complex works.

His biggest accomplishment in “Love Exposure” is that he manages to shoot a movie of this length, without being boring or tedious. The film’s other virtues include in-depth analysis of the characters and the hilarious mockery of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies, and the “Female Convict Scorpion” franchise, not to mention the concept of under-skirt photography. This last element is a testament to Sono’s wild imagination and his unique way of depicting the preposterous.

 

A colossal production with low budget

The film’s staff had to undertake a colossal production, in order to put on screen every notion Sono had in his mind. Nevertheless, they did a wonderful job, in all aspects, despite the fact that they did not have an adequate budget in their hands. Junichi Ito’s editing keeps the film as understandable as it could possibly be, and Sohei Tanikawa’s cinematography manages to depict all the different settings with artistic extremeness. The visual effects, the costumes and the makeup are also on a very high level

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Great Cast

“Love Exposure” features the (then) nouvelle vague of Japanese cinema, with Takahiro Nishijima, Hikari Mitsushima and Sakura Ando, all of whom went on to significant careers, and the first two netting newcomer awards. Sion Sono managed to get the maximum result from them, in terms of acting.

 

“Love Exposure” won a plethora of awards, both in Japan and internationally, and received great reviews, despite its low budget, duration and the preposterous theme. It is the most awarded work of Sion Sono, the film that truly established him as an international cult sensation.

“Love Exposure” will screen on Five Flavours Film Festival that will be held in Warsaw (November 16 – 23) and Wroclaw (November 18-24).

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