Blu-ray / DVD. Eureka.
latest film from Suicide Club
director Sion Sono concludes his ‘hate trilogy’ that
began with Love Exposure and Cold
Fish, and is an extraordinary visual feast that mixes
elements of crime drama, pink cinema and horror into a remarkable
tale of sex, madness and death.
The film interweaves a couple of stories – as policewoman
Miki Mizuno investigates a grisly crime involving a dismembered
woman who is missing her head, hands, feet and genitals, the film
intercuts with the story of Izumi (Megumi Kagurazaka), the obedient
wife of a famous, and strait laced author who insists on an unchanging
routine. Feeling bored with her life, Izumi takes a job selling
sausages at a local food store, and is soon approached by a woman
who offers her work as a model in softcore photos and videos.
Reluctant at first, Izumi soon discovers a new side to her sexuality,
and after a sexual encounter in a Love Hotel, meets Mitsuko (Makoto
Togashi), who by day lectures at a university, but by night becomes
a prostitute, happy to sell herself for whatever men will pay
– it’s not the money, but the act of payment that
matters to her, as she tells Izumi “when you fuck a man
you don’t love, it has to be for money”. She takes
Izumi on as a sort of apprentice, though her motives are not all
they seem, and soon Mitsuko’s self-destructive path becomes
Never subtle – except in the use of classical music on the
soundtrack - Guilty of Romance offers a sensory
overload of colour and hysteria, as Izumi throws aside her meek
demeanour and Mituko’s madness becomes ever more intense.
There are literal explosions of colour, as bright pink paint balloons
are thrown around – pink is the apt colour, as the film
references production company Nikkatsu’s long heritage of
softcore ‘pink cinema’ throughout, with extensive
nudity and sexual activity.
the moment Megumi Kagurazaka transforms from the meek housewife
into the sexual dynamo (a remarkable transformation, it must be
said), the film is on full throttle (quite literally in certain
scenes, as auto-erotic asphyxiation plays a significant part),
slowly but steadily combining its disparate strands as the film
reaches its dark conclusion. The cast are excellent, especially
Makoto Togashi, who has an outward calm that always shows the
insanity bubbling just below the surface.
There is a lot to think about here – the ambiguous sexual
politics, the sexual violence and the astonishing visual construction
of the film. But ultimately, it is a fascinating, visually arresting,
continually provocative film that works on several levels and
takes you on an unsettling trip into the heart of darkness.
Blu-ray contains the International version as reviewed (there
is a longer cut, with more of the policewoman's story, but by
all accounts this edit is the definitive edition), as well as
a 40 minute interview with Kagurazaka, and a commentary track
from Jasper Sharp.
IT NOW (UK) DVD