Guilty of Romance
Film Review by Kam Williams
Crime Saga Chronicles Descent into Depravity of Bored Housewife Moonlighting as Hooker
Written and directed by Sion Sono, Guilty of Romance is the final chapter of his “Hate Trilogy” which has already included the equally-dark offerings Exposure and Cold Fish. This installment is loosely based on a true tale ripped right out of the tabloids, namely, the 1997 strangulation of Yasuko Watanabe, a well-paid power company employee from a prominent Japanese family who had nevertheless been secretly moonlighting as a prostitute in Tokyo’s red light district.
The arguably-feminist flick film revolves around three independent women, a police detective, a hardened whore, and her late protégé new to the streetwalking trade. At the point of departure, we find officer Yoshida (Miko Muzuno) collecting clues at a grisly crime scene in Tokyo’s Red Light District.
On the ground lies the mutilated body of a woman which has been hacked in half, with her upper torso replaced by that of a department store mannequin. Furthermore, the victim was not only sexually assaulted, but her clitoris and labia have been removed, too.
As the story further unfolds, we are introduced by way of flashback to 29 year-old Izumi (Megumi Kagurazaka), a frustrated housewife married to a celebrated romance novelist (Kanji Tsuda) known for his steamy bodice-rippers. Too bad the couple’s bland love life bears little resemblance to the content of his salacious page-turners. Otherwise, Izumi might not be so driven to indulge the sordid urges she’s fighting so hard to suppress.
Her slow descent to depravity starts when she decides to take a job as nude model. And it isn’t long before she’s simulating coitus in front of the camera, and not long after that that she’s actually sleeping with strangers for money. At that juncture, she’s taken under the wing of Mitsuko (Makoto Togashi), a full-time professor/part-time prostitute with a good head for business.
Plenty of gratuitous nudity is on display onscreen as the plot marches inexorably back to the gruesome opening scene. Fortunately, the film does feature a humdinger of twist that makes up for the rest of the predictable developments.
A cautionary morality play offering a new take on the world’s oldest profession.
Very Good (3 stars)
In Japanese with subtitles
Running time: 114 minutes
Distributor: Olive Films