Love Exposure

Love Exposure ★★★★½

I’ve never been so excited to see a dramatic erection before.

This sprawling 4-hour genre-bending satirically biblical love epic is uncompromisingly stylistic, insane, and perverse (in the best possible ways). Love Exposure, which in a strange way mirrors that of a literary novel than a film, brilliantly infuses the unholy with holy, the sacred with the obscene, and sin with virtue. Attempting to decode its genre or true placement as a work of art would prove futile, and while at the heart of it all Love Exposure is a darkly comical love story, its complexities prove far more alluring for analysis. 

A girl, traumatized in adolescence, burdened by mistrust, and fueled by a burning hatred for all men besides Kurt Cobain and Jesus Christ. A boy, who sins only for forgiveness, and firmly maintains purity in a deeply depraved world. And another girl, tantalized by suffering, dedicated to mayhem, and the leading agent for religious indoctrination. It is these characters and their decisions that make up the four-hour runtime, yet the true star of the film is not these eccentric leads, but rather the societal paradoxes Sono boldly, unhesitatingly thrusts into the viewers face.

A world full of sin, yet controlled by shame. Where the righteous are misfits and the priests are the true sinners. A world of repression, where human nature is shunned, trauma festers, and love is weakness. Purity has been murdered by religious fervor and righteousness has been abandoned. It seems no societal concept or institution is truly safe from Sono’s critiquing gaze in Love Exposure.

When I watch a long-ish film, I always think to myself: “Is this worth the additional runtime?” When a film exceeds the two-hour mark, I hold the belief that what I’m watching should prove to me it’s worth my time. By the end of Love Exposure I wanted more, not in an unsatisfied way, but instead because I was so immensely engrossed in the narrative, so connected to the characters, and so feverishly immersed in the world. It is in this way, as I said earlier, that Love Exposure, to me, resembles that of a grand novel. Perhaps a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet, although that’s probably a stretch. 

9.5 / 10

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