"Completing Sono Sion’s famed ‘Hate Trilogy’, Guilty of Romance walks the same path as serial killer shocker Cold Fish and Love Exposure. Megumi Kagurazaka’s outstanding talents team up with the director once again, along with Makoto Togashi (Memories of Matsuko), Miki Mizuno (Hard Revenge Milly) and Kanji Tsuda (Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl). The story revolves around a bored housewife who awakens her sexual identity by thrusting herself into a world of prostitution. This being a Sono Sion film, there’s also time for a little degradation and murder. This being a Sono Sion film, a significantly longer cut played out to a packed house at Cannes, but the UK version comes in at just under 112 minutes, with less emphasis on the crime investigation and more time put aside for boobies.
When female body parts are found attached to two mannequins in an abandoned house in Tokyo's love hotel district, we are sent back in time to a place where Izumi has reached the age of 30 and is feeling incomplete. Not surprising really. Though she’s married to a famous local writer (Kanji Tsuda), his need for social order and complete lack of sexual interest causes her to take a job selling sausages in a supermarket. It’s there that a modelling scout approaches her. In no time at all the photography turns to porn and Izumi discovers a love of herself she had long since neglected. Unbelievable really, and anyone who’s seen Cold Fish will testify to that fact. She turns in to a slut basically, leading her to a deadly encounter with female academic Mitsuko (Makoto Togashi), who encourages her to express her desires in a more extreme fashion. Which means she turns into an even bigger slut basically, but a well paid slut none the less.
If you’re not a fan of Cold Fish then you probably wont warm to Guilty of Romance either. Once again Sono could be accused of revelling in the ‘m’ word, but seeing as he paints all of his characters in much the same light, the argument feels somewhat redundant. He takes his time as usual, opting for a slow and deliberate approach that some might find disheartening, were it not for the regular sexual escapades and sprinkling of violence scattered throughout. Sono is a world-class director though, and there’s something about the way he shoots that keeps me hooked at all times. Provocative, compelling and almost poetic, Guilty of Romance is helped along by a stunning lead turn with a body to match. The murder mystery is perhaps predictable, but Sono Sion continues to push the boundaries of world cinema, and he does it with lots of fleshy bits thrown in for good measure. He’s an acquired taste for sure, but Japanese cinema would not be the same without him." AW