Story: Detective Kazuko Yoshida (Miki Mizuno) is called to a crime scene where a dismembered body is found. Progress is slow on the case and
at the same time she has to be careful that her affair with another man isn't brought to light as she doesn't want to lose her family.
Izumi Kikuchi (Megumi Kagurazaka) is the wife of the successful writer Yukio Kikuchi (Kanji Tsuda). However, she doesn't know what to do in life and feels as if she is now at a dead end. Her husband is almost never at home and doesn't desire her. One day she is approached by a female agent who wants to do a few pictures with her. Eventually, she also cheats on her husband. That is not what Izumi wanted but at a closer look she doesn't really know what she wants until the day she meets Mitsuko Ozawa (Makoto Togashi) who she believes can show her the right way. Mitsuko is working as a prostitute at night and in the daytime she works as a professor at an university. She introduces Izumi to a new life, but she herself seems to be plagued by some demons which doesn't make her good company for Izumi.
Review: What's going on in the head of women, more precisely in that of Japanese housewives who still have to find their way in a
embarnacled patriarchy? That seems to be the question of director Sion Sono, right now probably Japan's hottest filmmaker. But can a man really see the world
with the eyes of a woman? In any case the attempt to do so led to "Guilty of Romance", a pretty complex erotic-drama that offers a lot of food for thought since
it approaches themes in everything but a pleasant way. In fact the drama is heavy on the stomach because of characters who all seem rather lost and eventually
drift into madness or are at least one step away from it, but that's just the reason why Sion Sono once again manages to present us with a truely
"Guily of Romance" is the last part of Sion's "hate"-trilogy, counting among them are the predecessors "Love Exposure" and
"Cold Fish". A connection between the movies is actually non-existent, solely the themes of love and hatred towards the world
are shared by those films, yet it has to be noted that those themes are also put into the focus of the director's other works. Anyway, this time
the isolation of a woman in a society that is dominated by men stands in the foreground. Freedom the female protagonists can win through
sexual self-determination, which makes "Guily of Romance" an erotic drama that shows a lot of naked skin. None of the three women aren't to be seen fully
naked at some point in the movie.
However, isn't this a male-centered view again, wanting to see women yield to their sexual desires by all means? Maybe, but concerning the women in this
story they are bored by everyday life or are carrying around emotional baggage. Izumi isn't anything more than a housemaid for her husband, innocent and pure,
someone you can show to others being a popular novelist. Who knows what he is doing when he is not at home, but his wife he doesn't touch at all. Of course she
is sexually frustrated and also feels caged. After her first amorous adventures a guilty conscience is taking over, but then of all people she is
seeking advise from a university professor who prostitutes herself at night. But not for the money. Yet the professor insists on being paid, because if you
sleep with a man without loving him then you should get paid - that's her advise to Izumi.
For the viewer it's soon apparent that the female professor is very bad company for Izumi, a woman for which there is still hope, contrary to Mitsuko. And the reason for Mitsuko's odd way of thinking is also resolved at some point. How badly she is in need of therapy becomes obvious during a scene in which she makes a visit to her very elegant mother, who knows about the profession of her child, along with her pimp and Izumi. This scene is extremely disturbing and even shows several layers of a dysfunctional relationship. There is a lot you need to be able to digest, because in the end everything has to steer towards madness, at least that's how it seems. Alongside there is a subplot revolving around a murder case serving as the movie's framework, a case Kazuko tries to solve even though she actually doesn't want to. That is because she fears that she might awaken her own demons, after all she is having an affair, too. Despite her leading a more thrilling life as a detective than other women she is also deadlocked in her life, wishing for more variety.
It is difficult to directly connect to the individuals in the film, thus everything remains rather cold, but there are constantly moments which are
more touching than what we would expect, namely every time when the protagonists give us an understanding of the perversity and insufferableness of life.
For this review the "Director's Cut"-version has been viewed, which is about half an hour longer than the International Cut. It's mainly the story around the detective that is extended, which is a good thing, but many things are explained too much in detail. Particularly some of the more profound dialogues are too discursive, accompanied by a classic piece of Mahler, so that they almost become annoying. Therefore, "Guilty of Romance" is just too long, maybe the International Cut is actually the better choice in this case. Yet after all is said and done this dark dramatic trip into madness is still another unpleasant showcase of Sion Sono's talent, more than anything else thanks to good actors and an interesting story.