Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 20th, 2012
BluRay released: August 13th, 2012
Approximate running time: 237 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese
BluRay Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £13.99
Even though there are a few characters who play an important role in the events which unfold in Love Exposure. The protagonist of this film is a young man named Yu. His journey begins when his mother dies when he was a boy. Before she died she told him to introduce her to his ‘Maria’ when he finds her. After the death of his mother, Yu’s father becomes a priest. There life after the death of his mother while mundane, they are at least relatively happy. Things drastically change when a promiscuous women seduces his father. Her arrival into their lives puts a strain on Yu and his fathers’ relationship. This affair does not last long and when she leaves, Yu’s father starts to question his faith. Desperately wanting his fathers’ approval Yu deliberately commits sins, so he confuse them to his father. When his sins appear not to be enough to solicit any real emotion from his emotionally estranged father. Yu takes up the hobby of up-skirt panty photography. After losing a bet with one his friends, Yu who is dressed up as Sasori ‘Miss Scorpion’ he finally finds his ‘Maria’.
From there the rest of the film centers around Yu’s courtship of Yoko the young woman who he instantly fell in love with the moment he first laid eyes on her. Of course there are several obstacles along the way like a young woman named Koike who is a member of a religious cult called Zero Church. Koike is a devious young woman with a sadistic streak and since the moment she first encounter Yu. She has been manipulating him. Also it doesn’t help that Yoko has developed series feelings for Yu’s alter ego ‘Miss Scorpion’. As if these things were not bad enough. The woman who has previously seduced Yu’s father has returned and she also happens to be Yoko’s guardian.
Sion Sono is one of a few filmmakers currently making cinema that always surprises me with each new film he makes. To date I have seen Suicide Club, Noriko’s Dinner Table and Exte: Hair Extensions. Like many, I went into Love Exposure knowing little about the film. Besides what I had seen in the trailer released for this film. This brief glimpse while enticing, it only scratched the surface for what I was about to see. While one of the main draws of the aforementioned trailer, was a protagonist who uses martial arts to sneak panty candid photographs of school girls. This ever enticing fetish serves as nothing more than eye candy for a story that is as emotionally draining and fascinating as anything of Sion Sono previous films. Love Exposure sees Sion Sono return to familiar territory, as the film explores themes like alienation, religion, sexual abuse and love.
On the surface the film’s lengthy running (at just under four hours) might appear to be too daunting for some viewers. And yet once the story starts to unfold, it is easy to lose yourself as everything moves along briskly and there is not a dull moment. In fact not a single frame is wasted, with the best moment saved for last.
Performance wise the entire cast all very good in their respective roles. The film’s standout performance comes from Sakura Ando in the role of Koike. From the moment when Koike first arrives on screen it is quickly established that she is a force that you don’t want to mess with. Her sadistic side is reinforced during a scene in which her incestuous father has just had a stroke. Laying in a comatose state, with a raging hard on. She grabs his penis and breaks it.
When compared to the other Sion Sono film’s which I have seen. Love Exposure is easily his most accomplished and in many ways his most accessible film to date. By far and away Love Exposure’s greatest strength is its ability to remain entertaining and at the same time thought provoking.
Love Exposure comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Though the transfer for Third Window Films DVD release looked very good. Once again they come up with a Hi Def transfer that improves upon and is superior in every way to the transfer that was used for their DVD release.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio sounds clean, clear and balanced throughout. Channel separation very good, the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented and the audio sounds robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release comes on a second disc (a DVD) and they are as follows, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 4 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles) and a making of documentary (58 minutes 24 seconds – 1.33:1 ‘full frame’ aspect ratio, in Japanese with English subtitles). The bulk of the documentary is made of up behind the scenes clips, that are interspersed with comments from Sion Sono and the cast. Other extras include ‘The Prince of Tousatsu: Deleted Scenes’ (28 minutes 8 seconds – anamorphic widescreen / 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), ‘Sakura Ando: Extra Scenes’ (9 minutes 7 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), ‘Zero Church Speech’ (7 minutes 30 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Japanese with English subtitles), ‘Hakari Mitsushima’ (4 minutes 49 seconds – anamorphic widescreen / 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles). Besides giving this film a new transfer and audio mix, there is a wide array of new extra content that has been included with this release. For a film that is just under four hours in length, there is a lot of footage that didn’t make the final cut, which is present in these new extras. Also there are comments about some of scenes from Sion Sono. Rounding out the extras are trailers for other titles also available from Third Window Films. Overall Love Exposure gets a solid Hi Def release from Third Window Films.