What happens if your dead mother tells you to fall for a girl that must be like the Holy Virgin Mary? Then what happens if your priest father makes you confess to him... then what happens if you meet the girl of your dreams, when you are just in the middle of taking photos of girls' panties... this is the life of Honda Yuu.
Was it the camera work or just the story that was being told to the viewer? Maybe it was it the music hummed in the background, maybe the visual effects? I'm not sure, but 5m in, and I was aready captivated and wanted more.
And then I realized it was a 4h movie.
The plot was nothing short of marvellous and NO, I did not feel the weight of the 4hrs. I did however watch it in 2 shots but I regret it; will definately rewatch this at some point. It begs the question: why 4hrs?! Well you watch it and let me know which bits they could have edited because I wouldn't shorten a single long shot, wouldn't chop a single line or remove a single scene.
How do you make a 4h movie about sex, and religion without boring your viewer? Shion Sono found the recipe.
Oh yes, it's messed up alright but just the kind of mind blogger we love and crave. Dark, taboo subjects, and fragile minds come together in a natural yet captivating storytelling.
Now one of the kicker is probably that EVERY SINGLE ACTOR was amazing. I repeat, every single actor. From the leads who were more than spot on even as their characters developed (small tiny note that maybe Yu could have been more tortured as the story unfolded? But very tiny note. Minuscule.), to the secondary hentai looser friends or the dad and mom. Everyone took my breath away, kept me riveted to the screen wondering where their character would take me next.
I could talk about the symbolisms, the teenage angst, the father figure (or lack thereof) - and the list goes on - but then that would spoil you the awesome journey that awaits you.
Without even the shadow of a doubt, 5/5 = Outstanding.
It is not surprising how this film is considered a critic's favourite. Sion Sono's grasp of cinematographic language, and his bold use of a variety of camera techniques have the potential of being messy, but fit so aptly in this bizzare epic. Audiences know that they are watching a post-modern film, and relish in the subversion of Christian symbols, the cultural references (taking panty shots, kungfu), and even throwbacks to older films (Koike cutting off her father's penis for example, has hints of Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses).
When asked about how real the events in the film are, Sion Sono commented that depending on the day, it could be completely true or completely untrue. What moved me most about this film is that, while the full blown craziness made the film seem unreal, when I survey the people that I've met, or what I have read in the news, I know hurting people like, people who have been through traumatic and difficult situations in life, do exist.
This is where I defend Sono's choice of leaving the film 4 hours long. He gives insight into what makes the characters the way they are. This seemingly superficial film actually carries a lot of depth. Though I'm not sure if it was his intention, this film carries with it a lot of social and psychological commentary.
Another shining aspect of this film, is the friendship between Yu and his classmates in high school. They are ordinary, yet the point of this film is also to say, that being ordinary, can nevertheless bring happiness, peace and hope.
Do NOT watch if you are expecting an average high school love or gangster story. It's hard to find a film much like it.