Sean Burdett’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ai no mukidashi(Love Exposure) was released in 2008, written and directed by Sion Sono, and is about Catholics, cultists, perverts, and true love. Now I’m sure that will be enough to make you immediately turned off by this movie because… Why wouldn’t you be? You’d probably think none of those things make any sense being put in the same movie and you’d be absolutely right. And if that wasn’t enough to turn you away, then the 4 hour run time should put the final nail in the coffin. And yet, it’s somehow all perfect, and straight up the most entertaining movie, I’ve seen in my entire life.
The most immediately evident trait of this is its style, and it’s spot on the whole way through. I think what stood out to me the most was the franticness of everything on display. That sounds pretty insane considering this is a 4-hour long movie, but the visual presentation from cinematography and editing makes the film feel super intense and frantic the whole way through. I guess I should make a comparison to a film I watched recently, Melancholia. I criticized Melancholia for having shaky-cam and looking really ugly, but here I’m doing the opposite. Why? I think the clear difference is the feel of the cinematography. In Melancholia, the camera work felt uncontrolled and ugly, but here, the frantic nature of it all never feels ugly or out of control. Instead, it feels like it adds to the pace and atmosphere of the film, but is never disconcerting. It looks really, really good, just completely nuts constantly. Past that, the overall style is so all-over-the-place, and it’s performed perfectly in that way. You’ll have one meditative scene on a beach, one scene of nutty action, and another of intense drama. I think this could tie in to the later points I’m going to make, but I think the point I’m making is that these scenes are all extremely different visually and stylistically and the cinematography and editing pull off that perfectly. The million different directions this plot goes are held together by a malleable style that is at once consistent the whole way through, yet always changing to fit the scene perfectly. In addition, the color palette is just nuts. The reds of Kaori’s dress and the flowing blood, the white and purity of the cultists, and the blue of the school uniforms of Yoko and Yu all blend together in a movie that’s truly alive. This movie is a visual feast, just in a very non-traditional sense. Instead of beautiful landscapes, like in The Revenant, or flowing elegance, like in Phantom Thread, you get what could honestly be considered an assault on your eyes in the best way possible. Every scene looks completely different from the one before it and the one that will come after it, making the style constantly changing, and keeping you involved in yet another aspect of the film making. I should also note while I’m talking about style that the use of music for both pacing and tone is pretty spot on. All in all, this is a movie that teleports you to another dimension, even though it’s still technically earth, and that’s something few movies accomplish.
Now, for once in my time here on the site, I’ll keep this next part brief - the narrative. There are few films that accomplish the narrative perfection that this film does. There is so much to talk about because there’s just so much and I love that. I don’t mean that this is a particularly thoughty movie, but there’s is actually a lot to think about once is all said and done, but, ultimately, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is the most insanely engrossing piece of film I’ve experienced in my life. I mean it when I say those 4 hours go by in about 1. This movie grips you from the first minute and doesn’t let you go the whole way through. Every single choice and twist and character is developed and chosen perfectly. I genuinely think that the characters in this are novelistic in their depth. The layers to each and every one is extraordinarily palpable, and yet, even to me, that didn’t matter at all. What did matter was what was happening. I know that sounds weird, but this movie was one of the few that made me entirely turn off the analytic side of my brain. I just let myself experience this film and, oh boy, was it great. I’m not going to do any analysis or whatever this time through because, first and foremost, I think that makes it harder to convince someone to watch the film, but secondly, I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the film. There’s so much there that can be talked about at great depth, and yet the movie doesn’t even want you to, which is nuts, and I absolutely love that. So, I won’t talk about that right now. Right now, I’ll just say please watch this movie.
Ai no mukidashi(Love Exposure) doesn’t exist on Prime or anything like that, so I had to buy it for $25. That’s insane! I had to spend $25 for one single movie which should not be a thing at all. I only mention that because that’s what I thought at first. Now, I realize, that $25 is gonna get me a net total of 24 hours+ of pure entertainment throughout my life. So I can say, straight up, this was the best $25 I’ve ever spent, so if that’s how you need to access the movie, trust me, it’s worth it. This is the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in my life, and as soon as the credits rolled I knew this was a top 10 movie for me, period. Watch this as soon as you possibly can because it’s more than worth the time.