JacobMaxKelly’s review published on Letterboxd:
I fell in love with this movie. Instantly it rises very high up in what I'd consider my favourite films. Sono has restored my faith in long filmmaking. As a kid I always loved longer films. I had the time and it was great getting lost in them. As I got older they annoyed me a little. I'd watched most of the really good ones and kept thinking why are you wasting my time, you self indulgent fuck, you could have told this same story in like 90 minutes and it would actually be better. Started really thinking about the narrative and how unnecessary it is to go such lengths as the epic. Often the story gets lost as points are either lost or overcooked. That didn't happen here. I wasn't bored for a second and the ideas just kept coming. Could have easily been longer and I'd be watching with a smile on my face.
Watching this I felt such an array of emotions. I was giggling, I was in shock and at times even just totally in love with what I was seeing. How it can shift from really low brow humour, to saying something quite profound and then just being utterly wholesome is a miracle. As the first hour went on, I was still being won over by it, which was cool. I was playing the game, trying to figure out what I was watching. Most of all, it reminded me of Nymphomaniac with its combination of dirty silly taboo topics within this quite high art package with the classical music. All to the point you can't really tell what type of movie you're watching. It just completely washes over you superceding pre-established notions of good taste and bad taste. I always get hooked when a film can do that. You're just on edge with the whole contradictions and the way you hang on every scene wondering whether to be appalled or in awe to the point its both.
I will never understand what it is about combing sex and religion that gets me intrigued. Think Nine Inch Nails Closer is to blame for this. I'm not religious in any way but there's something about the way they interact that never fails to grip me. They elevate each other and carry such a power. Whilst I don't take it particularly seriously, it makes it all the more fun and naughty I guess. Didn't John Waters say he loved being raised religiously because it made every encounter feel that bit more wrong. So yeah I was really appreciating the arguments with the dad and his need to sin. There was something already unbelievably watchable about it all.
Bolero was blaring too, which actually reminds me of that John Travolta movie Basic. As well that we even had Allegretto. The 7th is Beethovens masterpiece and I'll fight anyone to the death over this. As I was saying though, the classical tunes give it this air of sophistication that really contrasts with the topics being discussed. Resulting in some challenging and exciting viewing. I loved how they kept going back to the same few tunes. Gave the film some real momentum and rhythm from the get go.
As the miracle occurs at the end of the first hour I was blown away. I was won over. The way the stories collided into each other like that. Sono was brave and made the right choice to take his time building that. Then when he goes back and explains all the other characters and how they connect into that first hour was sublime. I respect any filmmaker that is wild enough to throw the opening title card as late into the film as possible. Proper Chad behaviour that. The later, the better. Its that simple. Just go and fucking do it!
After the first hour, we start hearing that Japanese noisy psychy garage rock band. Never heard of them but they slap. Sounded even a little krautrock with the riffs. Chapters 2 and 3 were the best. At that point I was like right this movie is allowed to be as long as it wants to be. It's earned that. Didn't want it to end. I was high on all its emotions and not thinking too hard about the unrealistic scenarios as is required with a lot of melodramas. Don't get melodramas me. Hate them all pre 90s but after that I really love them. Especially stuff like Enter the void and magnolia. Once they start being more comical and self aware getting off on the surrealness they're insane. The newer ones seem a lot more playful with family drama whereas the older ones put me to sleep.
The movie just kept finding ways to keep going and always stay interesting. All these different characters and the dynamic between them was fascinating. Some very dangerous and dark relationships that kept me hooked. The castration scene was stunning. That other cult leader coming in and taking my man's girl was amazing. Had that erotic thriller vibe going on there. Towards the end it began to resemble PTA's The Master a bit with just weird religious cults. Did love the gang of hornies early on getting into upskirting. That was just so silly I couldn't help but giggle. All the ninja and kung fu moves to get pictures was so unbelievably stupid and hilarious. The fact they call him the king of perverts or whatever. I was like shit this is my new family. I've found my true home like I did with Boogie nights. This has similar themes of rejection of parents that PTA uses. The fellas coming together and playing like poker but with the upskirting photos amused me greatly.
Believe Sonos story is that he bailed from home to join a cult so there's a lot of his experiences in this. That's kind of why it works. It's come from a crazy person who's gone down the road of madness. Played the game of religon, been confused as fuck and been spat back out. It manages to be a film that can be serious but also satirical. It works because it has a kind of deep hidden anger but also a desire to laugh at what's happening. Kinda like yeah I went down that road, this is why but what the hell was that all about or even why did I do all that.
Been reading up on Sono. Hes my man. Apparently he went to uni, didn't attend many lectures, didn't learn English and instead watched b movies and pornos. Well that's extremely relatable because I also went to uni, didn't attend many lectures, didn't learn English and instead watched b movies and pornos. Very relatable. We'd probably get on well. Been meaning to do more of his films but the lengths have put me off. Atleast now we're mates I can do some more as horny cinema really is the best cinema. Just dudes being dudes kicking back watching some horny cinema. The horny bois got to support each other. So yes I will be exploring more of what Sono has to offer for us horny Bois until the horny police catch us.