Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 16th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2008
Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Sion Sono
Cast: Takahiro Nishijima, Hikari Mitsushima, Sakura Ando, Atsuro Watabe
DVD released: January 25th, 2010
Approximate running time: 237 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £14.99
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.
Third Window Films presents Love Exposure in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The film which clocks in at just under four hours is spread over two dual layer DVD’s. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is kept in check. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels remain strong throughout, details look crisp in the background and foreground and the image remains stable throughout.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been provided. The subtitles are easy to follow and error free. The audio sound crystal clear, balanced and dynamic. The action oriented sequences and music fare the most throughout this mix.
Extras for this release are spread over two DVD’s.
Extras on disc one include 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.
Extras on disc two are trailers for other titles also available on DVD from Third Window Films. Overall Lover Exposure gets a strong DVD release from Third Window Films.