by Chris MaGee
We've been following Sion Sono's latest 4-hour epic, "Love Exposure" for awhile here on the Pow-Wow blog (most recently here and here). Well, Sono and the rest of the cast were on hand Saturday for the premiere of this near mythic film Tokyo Filmex and already the blogosphere is abuzz with mostly positive reviews. Two bloggers who I have a lot of respect for , Jason Gray and Edmund Yeo, were on hand for the screening of the story of "protagonist Yu [who] comes from a devoutly Christian family. A certain incident results in his priest father forcing him to confess his sins, which he commits daily out of a strong desire for praise. In the process Yu develops a taste for the sin of secretly taking photos of others..., but then he falls in love with a girl named Yoko who he meets by chance one day in town. Their relationship leads to unexpected developments involving a mysterious religious cult..."
A fairly simple storyline considering that it gets stretched out over 4-hours, something that might have a lot of people thinking that we're looking at a bloated, pretensious film, but according to Edmund Yeo "Love Exposure is "surprisingly accessible, and in most of it, Sono Sion aimed to entertain his audiences with lots of humour and homage to martial arts films of the past that he liked. Film's a blend of comedy, action, romance, tearjerking melodrama, character study, family drama and social commentary, so it was firing from all cylinders, aiming to generate all kinds of emotions from audiences." Still Yeo's opinion wasn't 100% postive, citing some uncomfortable clashes in style throughout: "It's like watching a Wong Kar Wai film, and all of a sudden he decides to throw in some Wong Jing-esque humour into the fray. Or a serious Sam Mendes drama that's suddenly interrupted by some Farrelly Brothers' style sight gags."
Meanwhile Jason Gray came out of the screening feeling bombarded, but seemingly in a good way. His "review" is simply a laundry list of elements that would have most Japanese and Asian film fans drooling: "Finally, worthy successors to the droogs of Clockwork Orange, and they're female. Endô Shûsaku-esque tests of Catholic faith. Childhood traumas that recall the darkest of Tezuka Osamu via Miike. A creepy cult that will make fans of Urasawa Naoki's 20th Century Boys want to sign up. The highest number of up-skirt panty shots in history. Toei Pinky Violence is truly resurrected -- Kaji Meiko's Sasori and her Stray Cat Rock personas are somehow reborn in both the young male and female leads. Samurai sword-induced arterial spray that will quench the thirst of Lone Wolf and Cub devotees."
When will we get a chance to see this film in North America? Your guess is as good as mine, but my money would be on the New York Asian Film Festival in the States and/ or the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Thanks goes to the Tokyo Filmex catalogue for the plot summary of "Love Exposure" and to Variety Japan for the premiere pic.