Love Exposure

Original Title: 愛のむきだし
Release date: January 31, 2009
Director: Sion Sono
Screenplay by: Sion Sono
Cast: Takahiro Nishijima, Hikari Mitsushima, Sakura Ando, Atsuro Watabe, Makiko Watanabe

Warning: The film has kind of graphic scenes of violence that range from a school shooting, male dismemberment, and your average Tarantino blood splattering flare, as well as sexual situations that range from pervy panties-snapping, hard-ons, talks withing the AV (adult video) industry… which are all relevant to the plot.

I am allowing a few extra words on this review, because deciding to re-watch a film like Love Exposure requires some dedication. Lasting a whopping 4hrs., if you decide to watch this, you gotta sit back and just let the movie be.

Love Exposure is the epic story of Yu (Nishijima), who grew up in a Christian home praying to the Lord and the Virgin Mary, whom his dear mother cared for the most… until the day she passes away, pushing Yu’s father Tetsuo (Watabe) to become a priest in the local community.

After a failed relationship with Kaori (Watanabe), a newly-converted Christian, Tetsuo becomes distant from his son only ever reaching him when he wants his son to confess his sins. Out of sins, Yu decides to become a pervert taking photographs of women’s panties on the street… but never forgetting the promise he made his mother — to meet “his Maria” which translates into finding the perfect pair of panties.

Introduce Yoko (Mitsushima) and Koike (Ando), as well as Christianity, religious cults, and the AV industry, and you got yourself an epic love story that passes for a violent action flick with some genuinely comedic moments stepping all over those dark times to make you, at least, a bit squirmish.

As a first time experience, Love Exposure doesn’t seem long AT ALL. The hours seem to fly by without you noticing it’s already 3 or 4 in the morning — the mere idea of a boy who wants to sin just because it’s the only way he can communicate with his father is an outstanding starting point. Make him a pervert, introduce him to a psychopath, and let him be attracted to someone he can’t be attracted to — the film can only be Japanese.

The editing in the film is so quick that it leaves you little time to linger on thoughts. However, as a second watch, the film does lose a bit of that marvelous feeling when you feel you’re watching something out of this world. One can think that director Sion Sono could have cut something out of the film to make it less than 4hrs., but then one has to realize that without every detail… Love Exposure wouldn’t be the same epic story.

It deals with so many different issues in such a light way that it’s nothing except entertainment.

Though the story is certainly about Yu and his Maria, the film wouldn’t have that extra punch without Koike and Sakura Ando’s brilliant interpretation. She’s splendidly wicked and tragic as she weaves the invisible net to catch Yu and his family. I feel kind of sick for enjoying her character so much, but I can’t help it — instead of being shocked at what she did, I found myself laughing with her!

Overall, I do understand the people that would hate the film. It has a lot to take in, it’s an investment of time, and if those 4hrs. don’t pay off the way you were expecting, it’s normal to hate something. If you’re already into Sion Sono’s work, or already love “films that can only be Japanese” and you haven’t seen this one – go for it!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

10 Responses

  1. Giacomo says:

    An all-time favourite. So good I actually refuse to watch Sono’s newer films because I know he’s never gonna match this. No-one can really

    • amy says:

      @Giacomo, so you mean he’s basically ruined himself financially xD

      It is rather great and, at the same time, sad to see a film so grand that even people that work on it describe as “the pinnacle of Sion Sono’s filmography” – The sucky thing is that there’s only going down after that.

      I really think it’s remarkable how you don’t feel the 4hrs at all.

      • Giacomo says:

        @amy, yeah. I’ve read it was originally 6 hours.

        I must be honest, I don’t think I could watch Cold Fish just for fear of disappointment. And it seems a little too harsh and bloodthirsty compared to Exposure

  1. January 20, 2014

    […] Love Exopsure – Sion Sono’s nearly four hour epic about a boy who becomes a perverted panties photo-snapper to have enough sins to tell his religious fanatic father, who became a priest after the passing of his mother is, in one short sentence — a film that can only be Japanese. The hours fly as you watch the, albeit kinda funny, pervertedness and violent destruction as our boy Yu finds his beloved “Maria.” […]

  2. April 17, 2014

    […] misfire then from the mind behind Love Exposure, a film which got away with being overlong, messy and violent simply through a warped sense […]

  3. April 17, 2014

    […] Sono, the Japanese director behind cult hits like Suicide Club, Love Exposure, and Cold Fish, and who last year released Himizu, has released a teaser for his latest movie, The […]

  4. May 1, 2014

    […] as The White Witch in the Narnia series, or even Sakura Ando’s psychotic performance on Love Exposure. None of the people in the graphic above made it, but they were in the […]

  5. August 6, 2014

    […] to Tatarsky. At certain parts, the style and pace feels like something out of Sion Sono’s Love Exposure, but making less sense in a different bizarre way. The main attraction to Generation P is […]

  6. October 12, 2014

    […] three and a half hours. Taking the time to watch it is an investment that doesn’t quite rival Love Exposure, but an investment […]

  7. October 18, 2014

    […] I’d like to see Ai no Mukidashi alumni Sakura Ando and Hikari Mitsushima battle it out on a boxing match just for fun, if you know […]

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