From Cannes 2011: Sion Sono’s Guilty of Romance

Better late than never, japanese director Sion Sono was in Cannes to present his latest work, Guilty of Romance. Which gathered few but good reviews!

Dilemma? Two different versions of the film exist; the extended cut (143min), is the japanese theatrical version which was screened at Cannes, the shorter cut (112min) is the international version. And neither one is the director’s cut, in fact, Sion Sono said he likes both versions. But, he admits in this french interview he has a small preference for the shorter cut. That’s the official explanation.

Which makes THR wonder “how such changes could help attract a wider audience remains questionable”, when Twitch gives us more details about what seems to be the main difference, “the shorter run time was achieved by largely cutting out the police investigation plotline”. And FDC, believes the shorter version “may not be a bad thing” as the film is “constantly theatening to explode”.

Inside. The film is introduced as “a mystical, baroque and anarchist tale about feminine pleasure” by Excessif, but also about “the struggle for identity and personal power” says Twitch. A “transgressive erotic thriller, that tosses out some intriguing ideas early on, and then gets progressively muddled in a twisted mix of prostitution, fetishism, offbeat literary musings and melodramatic screaming matches” writes THR.

Variety speaks of a “kafkaesque storytelling”, that “fuses graphic violence with strong sexuality while assaulting the notion that women asserting power by being attractive to men is any sort of good thing” notes Twitch. But to THR, “its overindulgence in chatter, fornication and occasional gore feels too blatant to make Sono’s social commentary run anywhere but skin-deep”.

Other things. On another level, Independencia writes that “every place in the film looks like a hotel with thematic rooms”, with Variety adding, “technically, the pic looks slick”. Also, FDC speaks of “colorful and incredible trip into a chaotic Tokyo”, not far from Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void. And let’s not forget that the “three leads are very strong with each delivering performances” writes Twitch.

Conclusion. “Sion Sono is establishing himself more and more as Shuji Terayama’s heir” says Excessif, “it’s better to know the director’s work before watching this film”, to keep in mind that “his provocation is more than a shocker, it looks like sorrow”. As for Twitch, the film “will surely shock those unfamiliar with Sono’s previous work while challenging his long time fans with one of his most unsettling works”.

Watch these clips, showing the submissiveness of a married woman (1st clip), who then becomes model, she’s shy but slowly forced to go beyond her limits (2nd clip). Finally, liberated, she’s having fun with some sort of stalker, and I guess one can see Sion Sono with his black&red shirt (3rd clip). Same woman, different faces. Which identity?

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