Guilty Of Romance
Guilty Of Romance opens with a crime scene: a detective (Mizuno) is led down an alley where there is a corpse lying in the gutter. The corpse has been dismembered and the limbs replaced with mannequin appendages. There's another body inside a nearby discarded building that has suffered a similar fate. Maggots crawl over the remains. Before we can get into the crime story, Sono suddenly whisks us off, through flashback, to a world alien to the one we've just seen.
We're now in the world of beautiful homes, of aprons, teapots and china. Subservient wife Izumi (Kagurazaka) meticulously prepares for her husband's homecoming; a celebrated writer, his impassioned novels belie the soulless and ordered life he leads - he's the kind of man who chastises his wife if she buys the wrong soap. Bored with her staid life, which has turned her into an insomniac, Izumi takes a job as a sausage seller in a supermarket where she is approached by a woman who convinces her to star in a porno. Sexually liberated, she runs into Mitsuko (Togashi), a literary professor by day but turns tricks for kicks by night, and Izumi realises how far some are willing to push the boat out when it comes to sexual gratification....
It's a long and protracted synopsis because there is a lot going on here - sexual liberation, its possible fallout, the only outcome once one continues down the path of sado-masochism, misogyny and misandry and misanthropy... but what does it all mean? What's the point of it all? Sono sets out to shock, and he does - Guilty Of Romance is rarely dull - but there's nothing behind it. In exploring sexual identity and empowerment, Sono is too unfocussed in the telling and concentrates purely on the levels of darkness the human race can plummet. Sono also fails to marry the serial killer thriller with an Arthouse sex drama, as both look like two very different movies. What he's trying to say about Kafka's The Castle, which is mentioned a few times, is confusing too.
There is a longer version of Guilty Or Romance (stretching to 145mins) depicting Mizuno's penchant for phone sex and expands the story into the three-way, which gives the argument for her character's inclusion a stronger case (as is, she's superfluous to the story), but this trimmed down version still seems too long and, like Cold Fish, a tad indulgent.
Review by Gavin Burke | 09:00 | Thursday 22nd September 2011 | Movie Review
If you love mad Japanese films, then you're going to love this... I've been keeping an eye on Japanese director Sion Sono since I saw his truly bonkers-but-brilliant 4-hour magnum opus Love Exposure. Earlier this year, he followed it up with Cold Fish which was not quite as bonkers but still pretty weird. With Guilty Of Romance, he concludes his "Hate Trilogy" with a very strange tale of a submissive, repressed and neglected housewife who goes wild when she gets involved with the seedier side of Japanese culture. It's quite funny at times and also quite disturbing... but yet it remains firmly watchable and always intriguing. Sono is a worthy rival to the equally bonkers Takashi Miike. I can't wait to see what Sono will do next...Posted 11:54 | Sat 1st Oct 2011
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