|Directed by||Sion Sono|
|Screenplay by||Sion Sono|
|Produced by||Naoko Komuro|
|Edited by||Jun'ichi Itō|
|Music by||Tomonobu Kikuchi|
|76 minutes |
Antiporno (アンチポルノ), also known as Anti-Porno, is a 2016 Japanese drama film written and directed by Sion Sono. It was released by Nikkatsu as the fourth film in the reboot of its Roman Porno ("romantic pornography") series. Other directors involved in the series include Hideo Nakata, Akihiko Shiota, Kazuya Shiraishi, and Isao Yukisada.
Kyōko is a renowned artist and writer trapped in a solitary gilded cage of her own success where she speaks to the phantom memory of her dead sister Taeko. Her assistant Noriko arrives to help her prepare to be interviewed by a prominent lifestyle magazine. Wrestling with nausea and self-doubt, she alleviates her insecurities by subjecting her older assistant to a series of ritual humiliations in front of the others.
A director yells "Cut!" and it is revealed that the two women were playing parts in a pornographic film. Noriko reveals herself to be a prima donna who is frustrated with the fledgling actress Kyōko's amateurish ineptitude and subjects her to humiliations mirroring those in the scripted scene. The layers of the two actresses' true personalities and Kyōko's background are revealed over the course of repeated performances of the scene.
Release and reception
At its premiere, it was praised for its feminist take on sexuality. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 15 reviews, with an average rating of 6.80/10. James Marsh of the South China Morning Post writes that "Sono's effort is easily the most ambitious entry yet in the series of re-imagined softcore entertainments. Not only does it challenge gender roles within the Japanese film industry – and in the country as a whole – but the film also attempts to deconstruct cinema as a voyeuristic narrative medium." He compares it to Sono's previous efforts, finding that it rises "above the director’s previous attempts to champion feminist protagonists". Ela Bittencourt of Slant Magazine wrote: "Cruelty, masochism, parental abuse (in the painter's flashbacks) and schadenfreude of all kinds fuel this feverish op-art dream that turns on us at every corner."
Some critics praised the film for subverting Nikkatsu's reboot of Roman Porno by boldly critiquing and exposing the sexual exploitation of the film and pornography industries. Nathanael Hood writing for Mubi noted that, for Nikkatsu's reboot, Sono was a seemingly perfect choice. His previous films, especially Love Exposure, Suicide Club, and Tag, show a certain sexual obsession in the director's work. Hood said,
"Imagine Nikkatsu’s surprise when Sono’s contribution to the Reboot Project would end up being aggressively unsexy. Appropriately titled Antiporno, the film is almost Brechtian in its determination to fluster and confound its audience by stripping away successive layers of fantasy until all that’s left is the cankerous soul of sex industry exploitation. It was a stroke of bawdy genius."
Other critics argued the film lacked nuance. Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine said, "Sion Sono, allergic to subtlety, is terrified that we won't notice his detonation of Nikkatsu's sexploitation traditions."
- Bowen, Chuck. "Review: Antiporno". slantmagazine.com. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
- Acevedo, Yoselin (12 January 2017). "'Anti-Porno Trailer': Sion Sono Returns with Feminist Take on Sexuality". IndieWire. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- Schilling, Mark (27 October 2016). "TIFFCOM: Nikkatsu's 'Roman Porno' Package Finds Reboot Success". Variety. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- Colosimo, Tyler (4 May 2017). "Antiporno [JIFF 2017] – Japanese Movie Review". TheMovieBeat. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- "Antiporno (Anchiporuno)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
- Marsh, James (21 March 2017). "Film review: Antiporno – Sion Sono lends unlikely feminist outlook to his roman porno homage". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Bittencourt, Ela (12 December 2016). "Mar del Plata International Film Festival 2016: Honoring Masao Adachi, Anti-Porno, We Are the Flesh, & More". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Hood, Nathanael. "The Antierotica of "Antiporno"". mubi.com. Mubi. Retrieved 13 February 2021.