Any movie with a running time of over 3 hours can be quite a strain on a viewers patience unless the film is exceptional, one with an absorbing and interesting narrative. Examples that immediately spring to mind are last years Carlos Olivier Assayas brilliant story of Carlos the Jackal at 330 minutes, Ingmar Bergman historical family drama Fanny and Alexander (1982) 312 minutes and of course the longest single narrative Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexandeplatz (1980) well worth 15, yes 15, hours of your time. Now we have Sion Sono’s lengthy tale of lust and religion Love Exposure (2008) originally meant to be some 360 minutes but edited down to a mere 237 minutes at the behest of the films producers. This wonderful story of Shakespearean dimensions, written by Sono, features, amongst other weighty subjects, castration, transvestism, religious cults and lots and lots of Catholic guilt. It also poses the question “can you be a pervert with dignity”?
Having grown up in a devout Christian family, Yu Honda (pop singer and Japanese heartthrob Takahiro Nishijima) has always been a well-behaved child. When Yu mother dies, Kaori seduces his father Tetsu and eventually breaks the Catholic priest heart. Tormented by the loss of the women he has fallen in love with, he takes his frustration out on his son forcing the boy to confess to sins he has not committed and then forgiving him for something he has not done. Yu gets tired of lying his father and sets out to become a true sinner. He teams up with three other lads who are well accomplished at the art of sinning, they introduce Yu to a man that teaches him the art of sneak up skirt photography which he takes too with a great deal of enthusiasm as he knows that pornography is the one sin a priest has a problem forgiving. One day while out with his pals dressed like Miss Scorpion, the end result of loosing a bet, he meets the strikingly beautiful Yoko (award winning Hikari Mitsushima) stepdaughter of Kaori who he helps out in a glorious street brawl and ends up kissing her. Yoko now thinks she is in love with another women! But worse is to come when the devious cult leader of the Zero church Aya (Sakura Ando) attempts to manipulate both their lives.
This is a beautifully made and choreographed film with a meaningful soundtrack that complements the action on the screen. It’s a film full of great characters all very well acted with a dark stream of black humour running through the heart of the movie. Watched over two nights, the DVD comes as two disks, the movie never drags. Yes it’s an oddity, but a very engaging one, and the question “can you be a pervert with dignity”? Well watch the film and you tell me!!