CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STUFF
Also contains lesbians, erections, cults, panties, religious nutbags, suicide, castration, cross-dressing, elements of farce, sexual frustration, Catholics, general insanity and excessive bloodletting - your basic Saturday night. That's a lot to fit in, but fortunately it's got the time to do it as it runs for a scratch under four hours - the second longest film I've seen after Cleopatra - and, curiously, it doesn't drag. That's actually an impressive achievement in itself considering so many movies struggle to reach 90 minutes without getting dull. And it's in Japanese. Takashi Miike take note.
And yet the thing about Cleopatra, Spartacus, El Cid and all the other Long Movies is that they were epics. Love Exposure is not an epic: rather, it's primarily a simple family drama of the boy-meets-girl school in which our hero, Yu, is driven to sin by his priest dad so he something to confess. The sin he becomes most proficient at is candid upskirt softcore pornography (there are lots of scenes of Yu and his buddies taking pictures of girls' knickers without them knowing). But it's only when masquerading as a woman that Yu actually meets the girl of his dreams - Yoko, who promptly falls in love with "her" and has no time for boys. Nor does the mysterious Koike, who deknobbed her own father and now works for a brainwashing cult called the Zero Church - and who is manipulating the lives of Yu and Yoko for her own sinister ends.....
It IS too long (it's spread over two discs, and fortunately the rental company sent both of them), and it IS all over the place, switching tone wildly, sometimes randomly, from romance to violence to comedy to softcore. But I didn't mind that. Last week I was told by a fellow FrightFester "it was my favourite movie of last year - you'll hate it!". Well, I didn't hate it: far from it, it's not the endurance test I was half-expecting. I actually rather enjoyed Love Exposure although it could do with trimming in places. But it does pick absolutely the right, perfectly sweet moment to end on and doesn't keep going once its story has reached the natural conclusion. Not something you can dip in and out of - you have to sit down and watch it all - but generally worth the effort.