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GUILTY OF ROMANCE (2011) by Sono Shion at Fantasporto 2012

 

One of the most eccentric films I have seen of late was the Japanese film GUILTY OF ROMANCE (恋の罪 Koi no Tsumi?, 2011) by auteur director Sono Shion. Reflecting the genre Japanese ‘pink cinema’, the film is about three women who find sexual freedom in unconventional ways through pink paint balloon tossing, prostitution and poetry. From the director of the films COLD FISH (2010) and HIMIZU (2011), Shion is not only a prolific director but one who shocks and pushes the envelope in filmmaking. Like a Bunuel meets slasher movie porn flick, this is reflexive cinema at its best, when you are so taken away by the fantastic in this film that sometimes you have to look around you while watching it and wonder if the other viewers are reacting the same way, if they are seeing what you are seeing, such raw and rare creative forces on screen.

GUILTY OF ROMANCE has two editions, the longer cut not available outside of Japan. Extremely well cast, the two lead women characters contrast each other perfectly, a prostitute named Mitsuko Ozawa (Makoto Togashi) obsessed with poetry and Kafka’s ‘The Castle’ who embodies a primeval androgynous duality, one minute a stunning woman the next looking like the devil himself. She meets the clean-cut well-behaved housewife Izumi Kikuchi (played by Megumi Kagurazaka), whose husband is coincidentally a poet and ‘pure and true’. Izumi and her husband have a routine married domestic life devoid of sexual contact. Izumi begins to live like a Japanese ‘Belle du Jour’ during the day finding her sexual liberation and going back to pure hubby at night. One wonders what the poet husband is doing for his sexual liberation but this becomes revealed with a twist at the end of the film.

But all pleasure has a dark side and Izumi soon craves to dig herself farther down the rabbit hole upon meeting a pink balloon clown and the world of Mitsuko that he introduces her to. Mitsuko dares Izumi to find her way into 'The Castle' that like in Kafka’s novel no one is privy to, the place of enlightenment that is denied anyone in the world of light. So, Mitsuko teaches Izumi that in order to find her way into ‘The Castle’ she must “fall down to my depth” and go all the way into the dark, and only there will she learn what she craves to know. So down, down Izumi goes deeper into the darkness with the devilish Mitsuko leading her until finally, she finds herself at her greatest depths with no way to turn back.

This is an impossible film to pigeon hole and sometimes it even frustrates as it seems to drag on at times slipping from overly melodramatic to horror slasher film to porn to deeply metaphorical, and yet I found myself still thinking of the film days later realizing that I truly enjoyed this film and have not stopped thinking about it since. This is fantastic cinema at its apex and one that anyone who sees will not soon forget.

 

written by Vanessa McMahon, March 6, 2012

 

other films by Sono Shion- COLD FISH (2010), HIMIZU (2011), BE SURE TO SHARE (2009)

  

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About Fantasporto

Dorminsky Mario
(Fantasporto)

40th OPORTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL runs Feb 28, March 7

The Oporto International Film Festival, specializes in fantasy and science-fiction films in its Official Competitive section.
This Festival also includes the 18th New Directors Week with an Official Competition and a Retrospective section. The Festival’s director, Mário Dorminsky, is preparing, with the help of the Portuguese Film Institute, a program with Portuguese Films for the benefit of the foreign guests in Fantasporto.
The Festival runs now in 5 theatres (2,600 seats altogether ) and screens nearly new 200 feature films each year. The press coverage of the Festival is made by all the most important Portuguese newspapers, radio stations and television networks and by foreign specialized press. This allows press dossiers of about 5000 clippings every year and represents a unique media coverage in Portugal for similar cultural events.

Almost 110,000 entries, per year is the average of the Festival’s past editions.

 

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