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Love Exposure

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Love Exposure
Film poster
Japanese name
Revised HepburnAi no mukidashi
Directed bySion Sono
Written bySion Sono
Produced byHaruo Umekawa
StarringTakahiro Nishijima
Hikari Mitsushima
Sakura Ando
CinematographySōhei Tanikawa
Edited byJunichi Itō
Music byTomohide Harada
Distributed byPhantom Film
Release dates
  • November 29, 2008 (2008-11-29) (Tokyo FILMeX)

  • January 31, 2009 (2009-01-31) (Theatrical release)
Running time
237 minutes

Love Exposure (Japanese: 愛のむきだし, Hepburn: Ai no mukidashi) is a 2008 Japanese comedy-drama film written and directed by Sion Sono. The film gained a considerable amount of notoriety in film festivals around the world for its four-hour runtime and themes including love, family, lust, religion and the crime of upskirt photography. The first version was originally six hours long, but was trimmed at the request of the producers.

Following its release, it won many awards and received acclaim from critics.[1] At the Berlin International Film Festival, it won the Caligari Film Award and the FIPRESCI Prize.[2]


Yū Honda is a Catholic teenager attempting to live his life faithfully. His father, Tetsu, has become a devout Catholic priest following the death of Yū's mother and operates his own church. Tetsu asks Yū to confess his sins, but Yū believes he is a good person who has little to confess. To appease his father, he makes up sins but his father sees right through him so Yū becomes obsessed with committing real sins. Yū befriends other boys and is taught to steal, fight, and take stealth photographs up women's skirts. Yū promptly becomes a skilled "panty shot" photographer. Though perceived as a pervert, he is never aroused by these photographs.

After Yū loses a bet with his friends, he agrees to go into the city dressed as a woman and kiss a girl he likes. When they go into the city, Yū and his friends come across Yōko, his "Virgin Mary" who is surrounded by a group of thugs. Still dressed as a woman, he helps Yōko, a skilled fighter herself, beat up the gang. Afterwards he kisses Yōko and runs away. Yū falls in love with her – the first time he's been in love with a girl – but Yōko falls for his disguise and develops feelings for his alter ego Sasori, or "Miss Scorpion".

Meanwhile, Yū is being followed by Aya Koike, a member of the cult "Zero Church", who has become infatuated with him after she catches him taking a picture of her panties. Aya, who turned violent after being sexually abused to the point of insanity, plans to bring Yū's entire family into the Zero Church and masquerades as Sasori to gain Yōko's favor.

Aya manipulates those around Yū and Yōko and Yū's family become caught up in the Zero Church. Yū desperately tries to free Yōko from the cult by kidnapping her but fails to persuade her to leave as she does not trust him to be Miss Scorpion and is convinced he is a pervert. Armed with a sword, Yū breaks into the Zero Church's building and again tries to escape with Yōko. Aya, who is present along with Yū's family, fights back, but commits suicide by driving the sword through her stomach when she realizes Yū's love for Yōko.

Yū is taken to a mental hospital, where he has forgotten all of his past and convinced himself that he is really Sasori. Yōko comes to visit, claiming that she now realises that she loves him as he was the one always trying to save her. Yū cannot remember who she is, so security escort the hysterical Yōko out of the building. Moments later, Yū remembers her and escapes from the hospital, running after the car driving Yōko away. Yū catches up, smashes open the car window, and joins hands with Yōko.



On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Love Exposure holds an approval rating of 91% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 7.74/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "An engagingly funny melodrama as well as an ambitious exploration of sexual behavior, Sion Sono's Love Exposure provides nearly four hours of extremely strange and entertaining cinema."[3] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100 based on 11 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]

Jaime Grijalba of Brooklyn Magazine wrote that "nothing can prepare anyone for the madness of this profound work of love, perversion, religion, friendship and conspiracies. It’s the most bombastic work of Japanese Cinema of the past decade and maybe the only four-hour film you can watch more than three times [...] in a year."[5] In 2015, Jasper Sharp of the British Film Institute listed it as one of the 10 great Japanese films of the 21st century.[6] Freelance film critic Kenji Fujishima also voted Love Exposure the ninth greatest film of the century in BBC's 2016 poll.[7]


The film received the following awards and nominations:[2]

List of accolades
Award / Film festival Category Recipient(s) Result
Berlin International Film Festival Caligari Film Award Sion Sono Won
FIPRESCI Prize Sion Sono Won
Fantasia Film Festival Best Asian Film Sion Sono Won
Jury Prize: Best Female Performance Hikari Mitsushima Won
Most Innovative Film Sion Sono Won
Special Jury Prize Sion Sono Won
New York Asian Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Sion Sono Won
Barcelona Asian Film Festival Audience Award Sion Sono Won
Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival Netpac Award (Special Mention) Hikari Mitsushima
Sakura Ando
Tokyo Filmex Audience Award Sion Sono Won
Hochi Film Awards Best New Talent Hikari Mitsushima Won
Kinema Junpo Awards Best New Actor Takahiro Nishijima Won
Best Supporting Actress Hikari Mitsushima Won
Mainichi Film Concours Best Director Sion Sono Won
Sponichi Grand Prize: New Talent Award Takahiro Nishijima
Hikari Mitsushima
Yokohama Film Festival Best New Talent Hikari Mitsushima Won
Best Supporting Actress Sakura Ando Won
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Achievement in Directing Sion Sono Nominated
Asian Film Awards Best Director Sion Sono Nominated


  1. ^ Schilling, Mark (February 6, 2009). "Telling a lengthy tale of lust and religion". The Japan Times. Retrieved Feb 11, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Love Exposure (2008) at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ "Love Exposure (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  4. ^ "Love Exposure Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  5. ^ "NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, June 1–7". Brooklyn Magazine. 2016-06-01. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  6. ^ Sharp, Jasper (September 10, 2015). "10 great Japanese films of the 21st century". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  7. ^ "The 21st Century's 100 greatest films: Who voted?". BBC. August 23, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.

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