Posts tagged: DVD
Ai No Mukidashi / Love Exposure
(This is a review I wrote a while ago in a series I was doing on Facebook. To celebrate the Blu-Ray release in America, I am republishing. Love Exposure will be released on August 6.)
There’s a reason most films are short. In ninety minutes, you only have time to explore the dynamics of characters who have a singular goal and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are right in pursuing that goal.
Be it hero or villain, you see this pattern more than you don’t by virtue of the fact that a single-goal story frame makes for clean and efficient telling. Some films can extend their run-time by introducing dozens of characters with singular goals (Lord of the Rings), but the inverse is rare.
Love Exposure (愛のむきだし), written and directed by Sion Sono, is an example of the inverse. The film’s 4 hours are divvied up among a sparse 5 characters. Through the course of the film, we discover that these characters are not only free from singular goals, they are free from doing what they believe is right.
The plot of the film is impossible to summarize. It touches on religion, love, lust, and family but never focuses on any of them. At times, it’s a screw-ball comedy about the techniques for shooting peek-a-panty photography (a style of soft voyeur that the hero becomes an expert at). Then, without warning, the film will do a major gear-shift and be a dark and humorless character study when the protagonist abducts his reluctant love interest and ties her up in a bus by the beach.
Throughout the film, characters do what they perceive to be right, manage to convince themselves the wrong they’re doing isn’t, and sometimes just go off the bend and do things that are intentionally wicked for no reason other than they want to see people suffer.
Over its 4 hours, the film behaves as a cinematic Rubik’s Cube. Twisting and bending the themes, characters and motivations around each other until all possible wrong combinations have been thoroughly explored. In the last 45 minutes, the sides of the cube finally line up. And, that’s where the water-works begin.
When the characters finally start to see the world come together in a way that isn’t wholly chaotic and sadistic, they become increasingly aware of the pain they created as they twisted it against its will into what they wanted (or thought they wanted or created out of spite and bitterness).
By the time redemption is desired by the cast, it appears to be utterly unattainable. And, after having spent so much time hurting each other, Sono has no shame in turning the screws and letting the cast endure just as much self inflicted pain as they possibly can before the credits roll.