Ai no mukidashi - Berlinale 2009, Forum
Ai no mukidashi / Love Exposure (Sono Sion, Japan) (International Premiere)
With Takahiro Nishijima, Hikari Mitsushima, Makiko Watanabe, Atsuro Watabe, Sakura Ando, Yûko Genkaku, Itsuji Itao, Mitsuru Kuramoto, and others.
From the program: "Kind-hearted Yu has no choice. His father, a Catholic priest, is urging him to confess, but in order to confess he must sin, and the only sin his cynical father recognizes as such is sexual perversion. So Yu becomes the King of Tokyo’s photo voyeurs – until he meets the Maria of his religious fantasies in the form of schoolgirl Yoko. However, not only does she turn out to be a man-hating rebel, she’s also the stepdaughter of the priest’s lover, and later on she is used as bait by an unscrupulous sect that wants to ensnare the desperate Yu. Child abuse, fetishism, Catholicism, sects: Sono Sion has never shied away from politically incorrect themes. Savage, overwhelming, baroque and opulent, in Love Exposure he composes the extremes of human behavior into an ecstatic passion choreographed to religious music, the Bolero, the funeral march and the Japanese band Yura Yura Teikoku’s J-Pop music. But not all that glitters is camp. Thanks to the candor with which he exposes a love that in the end overcomes all lies, despite all its tempestuousness this almost four-hour-long but nonetheless extremely entertaining film never loses its tension for even a single moment."
From Quiet Earth: "This looks like what Woody Allen would do if he were Japanese: some perversion, religious symbolism, and a sprinkling of martial arts. 'Forced to confess his sins by his priest father, Yu devotes himself to wrongdoing and becomes a legend of sneak photography. Then he meets Yoko, and becomes involved with a mysterious religious cult... NISHIJIMA Takahiro, MITSUSHIMA Hikari and ANDO Sakura make a splendid ensemble in this epic love story.'"
This year's Forum opened with an honest-to-god transcendent masterpiece. (Sorry, but Woody Allen has nothing to do with it. I think Shion Sonos is more an heir to Jean-Luc Godard if one is looking to western models.)
Four hours long, but so tightly constructed and ever novel that it seems less than half that time.
Notably the director of Ekusute (Exte: Hair Extensions, 2007) and Jisatsu saakuru (Suicide Club, 2002), Sonos continues his exploration of modern culture and our blended potential for self-destruction and redemption.
Catholic doctrine & iconography, martial arts, family drama, photo voyeurism, and cult indoctrination are only a few of the cultural strands that Sonos weaves together to make this epic film of love lost, found, lost, and finally redeemed.
Ultimately, the movie is an essay on 1 Corinthians 13 (delivered beneath a breathtaking image that surpasses the beach scene in From Here to Eternity):
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Every element is perfection. Cinematography, casting, acting, music (Yura Yura Teikoku, Ravel Bolero, Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3), costumes - a completely integrated, beautifully humane film.
For more information, visit the Forum website.
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Tags: Berlin Film Festival , Sono Sion , Berlinale
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