Before We Vanish by Chris Mello Film


December 29, 2017

Commissioned as part of Nikkatsu’s line of Roman Porno reboots, and adherent to its rules, Sion Sono’s ANTIPORNO is, as its title suggests, a screed against the pornography industry and the false liberation it purports to offer. Via the sort of direct, crazed monologuing typical of Sono’s work, central character Kyoko (Ami Tomite)—eventually revealed to be an actress in a porno— lays bare ANTIPORNO’s thematic ambitions, decrying the artificiality of social constructions of purity and sexual freedom in an oppressive society. Formally, Sono mirrors these concerns, constructing and deconstructing artifices and fragmenting his narrative’s timeline to lend fluidity to a continuum of sexual experience. So often the camera follows Kyoko through limiting space, like the bright yellow set we initially confuse for her apartment (after a moment of ecstasy that finds her awash in color, she crawls on the floor, screaming to be let out of this room with no exits). Without quite becoming didactic, ANTIPORNO marks a shockingly direct indictment for the often ideologically slippery Sono. And it’s still as wild and engaging as almost anything he’s made.

Published as part of Japan Cuts 2017.