Film Review: Love Exposure, or the Lack Thereof

Love Exposure 2009 Sion Sono

 “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”

- Roger Ebert

I agree. Sion Sono’s 2009 cult film Love Exposure is 4 hours of gripping story, setting the bar high for all films for me. Since watching Love Exposure, I find it difficult to enjoy a majority of films.

I’ve been holding off on this review because I want the review to justify Love Exposure’s greatness. Love Exposure is such an incredible film because it had me at the edge of my seat, gripped and tensed throughout the whole time. And when it was over, I cried because I had been taken through a long journey and found home at last. In some ways, I also felt empty. I don’t recall a film ever inducing me to tears as much as Love Exposure did, nor have I ever felt such a connection with the characters. No film ever had me tense the whole time. Love Exposure was amazing– every second of the 4 hours. Most films have scenes that bore me or makes me wish it would pass faster. Love Exposure didn’t. In some ways, I feel as if I shouldn’t like or rave about this film otherwise people will look at me with disgust but this is the sole purpose Sono tries to object.

In Love Exposure, Sion Sono covers the taboos of sexuality created by social institutions such as religion. Love Exposure follows three marginalized teens as they go on a journey seeking normalcy. Love Exposure is pure story. Sion Sono proves that a well written story will make a great film despite low quality camera and visuals. Apparently, Sono stated in interviews that he wanted to produce an A+ B film, meaning, a B film at its best. I wonder what the results would be if Sono had aimed for an A film with better cinematics.

I felt as if Sono had read my teenage blogs and journals, or somehow had gotten a glimpse inside my teenage angst mind. I found Yoko and her thoughts, her ways of dealing with her emotional pain and scars similar to mine. She was the character I connected with and understood best. I even had only two men that I loved in my young adult years: one a singer inspired by Jesus or just very spiritual (Jason Mraz) and the masculine, legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Even the scene of watching rhythmic sea waves coming ashore is something I could, would and like to do to sooth my tumultuous heart.

Most of all, I was introduced to a new concept, or old concept I had forgotten but looked at with new eyes: the most beautiful delivery of Corinthians 13. Like Yoko, I held fast onto it without properly understanding and not seeing my faults. Only later on when I have reached a sense of content did it make sense to me, and understood myself.

love exposure realizationI believe Sion Sono is a master of human behavior and the human condition. I attribute this to his background as a poet. He articulates visually how emotions affect people’s behaviors which drives the film’s plot forward. He also shows the psychology behind his characters in a way that makes sense.

The only downside to this film is, people who had really normal lives may not understand the actions of the character and touts that those actions don’t make sense.

Other than that, this film deserves cult film of the decade for 2000-2010. Love Exposure won several awards but I feel love exposure should’ve gone to Cannes.

Warning: do not watch with kids or your parent around! Film contains several uncomfortable scenes but no nudity.

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Comments (8) Write a comment

  1. Sort of stumbled upon this blog post randomly off a Google search. Just wanna point out, I think you misunderstood the Ebert quote: what he means is not that good movies can’t be super-long, just the opposite: if a movie is good then it’s impossible for it to be “too” long, no matter how long it is. And if a movie is bad then you want it to end as soon as possible. ;)

    Anyway, a well written post, and I’ve been meaning to try out some Sion Sono movies sooner or later. :)


    • Ahh,I see. I’ll fix that part asap! You should definitely watch Love Exposure. Let me know what you think of it and Sono’s other movies when you get a chance! :)


      • Well I ended up watching Cold Fish tonight. Judging from your description of Love Exposure I’m guessing they’re very different kinds of movies, heh. Cold Fish is… probably one of the most violent movies I’ve ever seen… but it’s flawlessly directed and has one of the best villains ever (such a good performance by ‘Denden’). I really liked it.

        Anyway, I’ll watch whatever other Sono movies I get a chance to. You’ve definitely sold me on Love Exposure; I’ve got it downloaded now and I’ll get around to it, by and by. :)


        • Cool. I’ve yet to see Coldfish. My sister also said good things about it. Have to check it out now :)


      • So, I just watched Love Exposure. I’d say it’s now my favourite movie of the last… nine years…

        So good! Thank you thank you for accidentally convincing me to watch it! ;)

        I also love your review. You seem to’ve appreciated the film on different levels from me, but your perspective totally makes sense and only increases my own appreciation.

        To me the movie is all about the absurdity of love and religion, while conversely being sort of a sweet love story and never dismissing religion. In any case, it was wickedly funny and entertaining and those four hours flew by.

        Also watched “Strange Circus” a while back by the way. That’s also a pretty great movie. Very strange. And visionary. Sono’s fast becoming one of my favourite Japanese directors. But Love Exposure’s gotta be his masterpiece. :)


  2. I was wondering whether you eventually watched it or not since i havent herd back from you for a long time. Glad to see you back and that you watchee and enjoyed it! What fils would you say can compare to it? or what was a favorite of yours the previous nine years?

    I’m surprised that i took the film so serious and didn’t find the humour in it the first time around.


    • What films can compare to it? Hmm… I guess one of the things I like most about it is there’s nothing else I’ve seen like it. Although, at the same time, there’s just so much there, in Love Exposure, that I could probably draw tons of ultimately superfluous comparisons. Hmm… I dunno!

      I mean, as far as strange, little-seen, way-long, totally-unique, and grossly-ambitious Japanese films go… “Profound Desires of the Gods” by the director Shohei Imamura is another one I love almost as much. But its actual content and style is quite different from Love Exposure.

      That’s probably the best comparison I can make though; it’s all downhill from here if I try to come up with others. :p

      As for my other favourite movies of the last decade, I like Kill Bill, Grizzly Man, Revolutionary Road, A Serious Man, and the much-hated “Knowing”. But I watch a lot more older films. And a lot of classic Japanese films of the 50s and 60s especially. Like, for example, you have to watch “Ikiru” if you haven’t.


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