Darren Carver-Balsiger’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's hard to tell what exactly Love Exposure is. It's definitely a film of bold energy and unrelenting style. It seems like a bizarre statement on the sexual urges that define us. Overall though it seems to be a satire on love, family, religion, and sex.
At four hours in length, with an hour long prologue and half-hour epilogue, Love Exposure manages to cover a lot. Sex is the most obvious part of Love Exposure, telling a story of perversion on its surface. The lead character, a pervert with dignity, finds himself on a perverse quest for love. He wants love, but sex is everywhere. Love is a cave, a black hole that sucks him in. As love and sex are inseparable, he finds the lines between love, lust, and belief blurred.
Belief is significant here, as religion is the backdrop of love in Love Exposure. Christianity plays a massive part in the film, and we see the failure of the religion to truly help people. More specifically, it fails them regarding sex, and unfortunately sex is pretty much everything. Organised religion is outward looking, not inward looking, and so blames sex for societal ills. In many ways religion is a cult, even if values like faith, hope, and love can be truly important to our lives. With Christianity specifically, there is shown to be an obsession with sins. It's about being bad in order to be good. Which feeds into the messed up sex stuff. It's about enjoying being hit, enjoying the pain. When observed and not dodged, pain is a deliberate choice. These choices fuel conflict, and that forces people together. With messed up families creating broken people, they turn to unfulfilling things like cults and perversion. But if you manage to get through all of that, you may finally get what you want at the same time as you go mad. It's a brutal world.
Love Exposure is a surreal and abstract look at our lives. It's hilarious in its insanity and stunning in its imagery (red on white, white on red). It's also not a film for those unwilling to take risks. There's moments that touch on masturbation, rape, and commercialised perversion, and then there's the visuals which contain quite a few erections (mostly covered), lots of up-skirt photography, and a few moments of graphic penis mutilation. Love Exposure is weird in the best possible way, with quirkiness used to enhance its story and the themes important to a modern society built on sex and religion. It's four hours of wacky comedy-drama made extreme and satirical.