Love Exposure

Love Exposure ★★★★½

Longtober #1

I know. Terrible name. But, considering I'm not super into horror films and EVERYONE is doing horror themed lists and marathons, I wanted to join in on the fun with something I DO love, and that's long movies.

And boy oh boy! What a first entry on this list!

In a list filled with period pieces and war dramas, of course I pick this one out of the hat first. This thing is insane. Here's some couple initial takeaways:

1. Religion really sucks balls
2. Love is more powerful than any other force in the universe, and
3. This may be the most bizarrely enthralling film I've ever seen.

On top of being one of the funniest films ever (I mean it), Love Exposure is rife with unforgettable moments (my personal favorite being the Pervert Festival Confessional), powerful imagery, and idiosyncratic choices that just beg its audience for a multitude of reactions, from "What the fuck?" to "Hell yeah!" to "You know, that was kinda stupid." to "I just don't plain get it."

Is it long? Hell yeah, and perhaps to its detriment. That final act in particular REALLY felt like a final act. (And also, I felt like they gave up on the chapters a bit near the end. Wished it could have flowed better at some times especially around 2/3 of the way through.) Nevertheless, the first two hours of this film is capital C Crisp as fuck and entertaining as all hell.

When Koike's plan finally gets set in motion, I've never been so viscerally disgusted at a character, even though I knew it was coming! Perhaps that has to do with how the subject matter connected to my own life in a pretty personal way. I grew up in household that believed in God, but was rather unreligious. I never felt pressured except for a select few moments in my life. During my childhood and teenager years, I was definitely a misguided pervert with an identity crisis just like Yu. There's no forgiving that. My actions never seemed to coincide with the illusion I created for myself that my conscious was clear, that I was a moral person. It was only until after I matured, and have now known what love feels like, that I know better and have actually tried to change. No more was it about intention; instead, it is about action. And I think that really gets down to the root of the film: maturity, and its relationship with love (of course, through a tunnel of faith but bear with me, here).

Yu's father, through love (and a discarding of religion? or at least coming to terms that it isn't the source of true happiness or it is perfect or something. There's a lot going on in this film give me a break) is able to mature and find peace. It is not religion that brings him peace, just as it isn't an obsession with Yoko for Yu or Zero Church/man hate/family repression for Yoko or money/power/domination for Koiko (this character i'm still confused about lol). It is love, and all the problems and quirks that come with it, that allow these characters to "see the light" as it were. This, I think at least, is at the heart of the film's purpose and message.

There are, for me, a couple of unresolved metaphors and images (the bird being a parallel with the knife Yoko carries into the mental ward, for example) that stick out in a bizarre way, and I didn't really love whenever the film shot scenes outside. And often during intensely emotional scenes, it felt like there was a lot of forced blocking and movement that was unnecessary. But man, besides these flaws, this is an amazing film.

It didn't overstay its welcome at all (only really felt pacing issues at a few points near the end), it THOROUGHLY entertained, and it was really ripe with metaphors and meaning welcome to interpretation. Absolutely loved it.

Up next: War and Peace

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