“Love Exposure” is the most perverse of fairy tales and, therefore, also one of the most entertaining.
Clocking in at 237 minutes – just shy of 4 hours – “Love Exposure” requires one heck of an investment – especially seeing as it is in Japanese with English subtitles. However, the payoff is definitely well worth it… so long as you have a politically incorrect sense of humor and a tastelessly open mind.
Takahiro Nishijima plays Yu, a teenager driven to a life of sin, romantic extremes and sexual perversions by his father’s desperate conversion into extreme Catholicism. The most significant of Yu’s sins is participation in the art of Tosatsu (translation: “to steal with photos”) or, in layman’s terms, upskirt panty photography.
After losing a bet to his friends, Yu takes to the town dressed as a women, at which time he defends and falls in love with a girl named Yoko (Hikari Mitsushima), who, in turn, develops same-sex feelings for this alter ago. However, another girl – Koike (Sakura Andô) – has become infatuated with Yu at the same time. And she knows his perverse secret.
A member of the cult group “Zero Church” Aya, who was sexually abused to the point that she became psychotic and set out on a series of violence sprees, including shooting every student in her class and cutting her father’s penis off, becomes a roadblock on Yu’s path to true love as she destroys everything the young man once held on a pedestal.
Needless to say, “Love Exposure” is not for everybody. However, chances are, if you are still reading this review, the movie’s unique synopsis has piqued your interest without encouraging you to call the Motion Picture Association of America in a fit of anger. (Keep that phone handy, though, because “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” comes out next weekend.)
Having said all of that, “Love Exposure” is an endless source of amusement and – get this – actually kind of romantic when all is said and done. Writer/director Shion Sono makes this movie seem sincerely epic, helping the extra-long runtime to feel warranted and never once allowing the audience to feel even the least bit bored.
Having said that, “Love Exposure” is still a hard pill to swallow all in one sitting (and, keep in mind, this is coming from someone who watches movies for a living). You are likely to be craving a shower by the time the end-credits begin to roll, if not for sitting on your butt for 4 hours then for the overwhelming feeling that you have sinned simply by seeing Sono’s saga.
“Love Exposure” (UR – 237 minutes) is now playing exclusively at The Royale. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.