From the acclaimed director of Cold Fish, Sion Sono comes his final part of his supposed 'hate' trilogy Guilty of Romance (Koi No Tsumi) which garnered further acclaim at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Comprising of two storylines - a detective investigating the grisly murder of a lone woman; with that of Izumi (Megumi Kagurazaka), a wife of a famous romantic novelist whose marriage is devoid of romance. To bolster here confidence she takes up a job as a naked model faking sex for a camera; which ultimately leads to prostitution whilst maintaining the facade of a domesticated, monotonous housewife at home to her unbeknownst husband.
The plot can be considered a lift of Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour, but Sono makes clear to put on his own distinctive trademark on to the subject matter. Sono's background before breaking into film was in poetry, and you can see from his characterisation that he does love his characters - giving them the opportunity for introspection, in terms of writing journals, giving them the opportunity to discover themselves even when they do not know what they might find.
His sharp detail for set design and lavish use of colour coupled with the dynamic use of classical music to evoke heightened sense of mood in the characters are all apparent - but on this occasion he does not forget that the film starts with a graphic act of violence. Sono is perhaps making a statement of the parallel between the guilty acts of violence and romance, mentioning how the film follows damaged individuals, but still human beings who deserve love all the same.
In a still stilted society like Japan, that maintains a prudeness and shyness surrounding the sexual orientation of many of its population; it is nonetheless refreshing to see a director be bold enough in terms of following his convictions and the blending of genres (film noir, mystery, melodrama) that utilise his authorial motifs of vivid colour and graphic imagery to its maximum potential, and gaining career best performances from his leading ladies especially Kagurazaka, in the belle de jour role.
Guilty of Romance is release by Eureka! Entertainment on Friday 30th September on limited release in the UK