Love Exposure

Love Exposure

Film poster
Japanese 愛のむきだし
Hepburn Ai no mukidashi
Directed by Sion Sono
Produced by Haruo Umekawa
Written by Sion Sono
Starring Takahiro Nishijima
Hikari Mitsushima
Sakura Ando
Music by Tomohide Harada
Cinematography Sōhei Tanikawa
Edited by Junichi Itō
Distributed by Omega Project
Release dates
  • November 29, 2008 (2008-11-29) (Tokyo FILMeX)

  • January 31, 2009 (2009-01-31) (Theatrical release)
Running time
237 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Love Exposure (Japanese: 愛のむきだし Hepburn: Ai no mukidashi) is a 2008 Japanese comedy-drama art 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 duration and themes including love, family, lust, religion and the art 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 positive reviews.[1] At the Berlin International Film Festival, it won the Caligari Film Award and the FIPRESCI Prize.[2]


The story follows Yū Honda (Takahiro Nishijima), a young teenage Catholic attempting to live his life in a faithful and orderly manner. His father, Tetsu, has become a devout Catholic priest following the death of Yū's mother, and operates his own church. Yū's father asks Yū to confess his sins, but Yū believes he is a good person, who has little to confess. At first he makes up sins, but his father sees right through him, and Yū sets out to commit real sins. Because of this, he falls in with a questionable crowd.

Yū is taught by his new friends to steal, fight, and take stealth photographs up women's skirts. Yū promptly becomes a skilled "panty shot" photographer. He is perceived as a pervert, but 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 a young teenage girl named Yōko (Hikari Mitsushima), who is surrounded by a group of thugs. Yū, still dressed as a woman, then helps Yōko beat up the gang of thugs. Afterwards he kisses Yōko and runs away. He 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 (Sakura Ando), 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 we are shown was sexually abused to the point that she became psychotic and set out on a series of violent sprees, including shooting every student in her class and cutting her father's penis off, devises a plan to bring Yū's entire family into the Zero Church, planning to gain the favour of Yōko by masquerading as Sasori.

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 Zero Church by kidnapping her, but fails to persuade her to leave, as she does not trust him and is convinced he is a pervert. Armed with a sword, Yū then breaks into the building where the Zero Church are present and once again tries to escape with Yōko. Aya, who is present along with Yū's family, fights back, but resorts to 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 Yū, 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 who Yoko is, and is aroused at the thought of her. He escapes from the hospital and runs after the car that is driving Yōko away. The film concludes as Yū smashes open the car window and joins hands with Yōko.



Rotten Tomatoes reports 90% approval for Love Exposure,[3] and the film also holds a 75/100 on Metacritic based on five reviews.[4]

In 2015, Jasper Sharp of the British Film Institute listed it as one of the 10 great Japanese films of the 21st century.[5] Freelance film critic Kenji Fujishima also voted Love Exposure the ninth greatest film of the century in BBC's 2016 poll.[6]

Screenwriter Max Landis has called it "the greatest film of all time".[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 December 21, 2010.
  2. 1 2 Love Exposure (2008) at the Internet Movie Database
  3. "Love Exposure (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  4. "Love Exposure Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  5. Sharp, Jasper (September 10, 2015). "10 great Japanese films of the 21st century". British Film Institute. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  6. "The 21st Century's 100 greatest films: Who voted?". BBC. August 23, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  7. Trailers From Hell (February 18, 2013). "Trailers from Hell: Max Landis Debuts with Sion Sono's 'Love Exposure,' "the greatest film of all time"". IndieWire. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
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