Love Exposure

3 out of 5 stars
Kikari Mitsushima in Love Exposure
Kikari Mitsushima in Love Exposure

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived a wonderful life. Then his mother passed away, and his father, riddled with grief, became a priest. Years later, when the boy had grown to be a guilt-ridden young man named Y (Nishijima), he learned a martial-arts technique for secretly photographing women's underwear; the lad quickly became the Bruce Lee of upskirt-fu. (He'll later be dubbed the King of Perverts, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.) One day, a dressed-in-drag Y defends Yok (Mitsushima), a teen schoolgirl, from a gang of thugs. A quick peek at her panties makes him go priapic. He's finally found his soul mate.

That's just the first 40 minutes of Sion Sono's neopink film epic; the next three hours and change will belch forth bizarre love triangles, alter egos, brainwashing cults, terrorist bombings and skewed riffs on Christian iconography. And still, we've only grazed the tip of the iceberg for this overstuffed J-pop soap opera, which at its best works as a tribute to emotionally damaged misfits, and at its worst feels like a metabolic mash-up of hentai detritus. Anyone who's followed the director's career since the eerie-satirical Suicide Club (2001) has seen him tackle these subjects before with wildly varying degrees of success, and Love Exposure plays like a marathon greatest-hits-and-misses mixtape. If you see only one Sono film, check out this flick; you will have then seen them all.

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