Friday, 27 March 2015


Completing Sion Sono's famed ‘Hate Trilogy’, Guilty of Romance walks the same path as serial killer shocker Cold Fish and giant appendage, Love Exposure. Megumi Kagurazaka and her 'outstanding talents' team up with Sono once more, alongside Makoto Togashi (Memories of Matsuko), Miki Mizuno (Hard Revenge Milly) and Kanji Tsuda (Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl). 

The story revolves around a bored housewife who awakens her sexual identity by thrusting herself into a world of prostitution. This being a Sion Sono film, there is also time for a little bit of degradation and murder. This being a Sion Sono film, a significantly longer cut played out to a packed house at Cannes. The UK version comes in at just under 112 minutes with less emphasis on crime investigation and more time put aside for boobies. I typed boobies. Good job this isn't a career...

When female body parts are found attached to a couple of mannequins in an abandoned house in Tokyo's love hotel district, we are thrust back in time to a place where Izumi has reached the age of 30 and is feeling incomplete. Hardly surprising to be honest. Though she’s married to a famous local writer (Kanji Tsuda), his need for social order and complete lack of sexual interest causes her to take a job selling sausages in a supermarket. Sausages. Mind, gutter... hey, how you doing? 

It’s here that a modelling scout approaches her. In no time at all the 'artful' photography turns into porn and Izumi discovers a love of herself she had long since neglected. Unbelievable really, I know, and fans of Cold Fish will testify to that fact. When all is said and done, she turns in to a slut. That's basically what happens, which leads her to a deadly encounter with a female academic called Mitsuko (Makoto Togashi), who encourages her to express her desires in a more 'extreme' fashion. She's an even bigger slut then, but a well paid slut none the less.

If you’re not a fan of Cold Fish then you probably won't warm to Guilty of Romance either. Once again Sono could be accused of revelling in the ‘m’ word, but seeing as he paints all of his characters in much the same light, the 'misogyny' argument feels somewhat out of place. He does like to take his time though, opting for a deliberate approach that some might find disheartening - were it not for the regular bouts of sexual intercourse and violence scattered throughout. 

Sono is a world-class director though, and there is something about the way he shoots that keeps me captivated. Provocative, compelling and almost poetic, Guilty of Romance is adequately enhanced by a striking lead turn and a body to match. The murder mystery is perhaps predictable, but Sion Sono continues to push the boundaries of world cinema - with fleshy bits thrown in for good measure. 

An acquired taste for sure, but Japanese cinema wouldn't be the same without Sion Sono.

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