Since both this film and Kakera were on sale at a local DVD shop, I’ve had a bit of a Mitsushima Hikari overdose recently. Both films are very good, and Hikari is excellent in both, but only Love Exposure had me scurrying to my keyboard to write a review.
At four hours long, I had planned to watch it over four days in one hour chunks. As it turned out, on the second day I found myself unable to turn it off and so watched the rest of the three hours in one sitting. And then the hour-long ‘making of’ documentary too.
The story is, basically, boy meets girl. That’s a bit of an over simplification, but it is accurate: this is a love story between two people. The main character is a schoolboy, played by Nishijima Takahiro, who’s also an expert in collecting up-skirt photos... the character, that is. Not Takahiro. This boy falls in love with the daughter of the woman who is seducing his father (a priest). Unfortunately, this girl (Mitsushima Hikari) thinks he’s a woman called Miss Scorpion who’s a martial arts expert. If that wasn’t complicated enough, his family has been targeted by a religious cult as potential recruits.
It’s a tribute to the director and writer, Sono Sion, that this film holds together. What could’ve been disjointed and episodic is actually a smooth story shifting easily from one event to the next, without ever seeming to be forced. The acting, too, is great. It’s difficult to find any fault with this. If I was being super-critical, perhaps we don’t need to know everyone’s life story, but to lose that would be to lose some of the more memorable scenes in the film.
If the Devil and Jesus ever got drunk one evening and decided to write one of those stories where you take turns writing one line each, it might turn out something like this.