Film review: Antiporno – Sion Sono lends unlikely feminist outlook to his roman porno homage
Japanese director takes a rare feminist standpoint in this soft-core porn story, that starts with a female author/artist and her domination/humiliation of her older assistant, and the gradual role reversal that ensues
Seldom one to be praised for his positive representations of women onscreen (remember Virgin Psychics ?), Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono takes encouraging strides towards a more feminist outlook in Antiporno, his entry in film company Nikkatsu’s ongoing roman porno reboot project.
Following Wet Woman in the Wind and Aroused by Gymnopedies , Sono’s effort is easily the most ambitious entry yet in the series of re-imagined softcore entertainments. Not only does it challenge gender roles within the Japanese film industry – and in the country as a whole – but the film also attempts to deconstruct cinema as a voyeuristic narrative medium.
Trapped in a gilded cage of her own success, coquettish novelist/artist Kyoko (Ami Tomite) is preparing to be interviewed for a prominent lifestyle magazine. Wrestling with nausea and self-doubt, she alleviates her insecurities by subjecting her older assistant, Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui, Harmonium), to a series of ritual humiliations.
About 30 minutes in, however, it is revealed that we have been watching a film, and Kyoko is actually a fledgling performer with no experience; the real prima donna is Noriko, who is quickly tiring of her co-star’s amateurish ineptitude. As the layers of Kyoko’s identity are peeled back, Sono dazzles us with a lurid kaleidoscope of fluorescent sets, outlandish costumes, dazzling imagery and, as the rules of roman porno dictate, salacious nudity every 10 minutes.
What raises Antiporno above the director’s previous attempts to champion feminist protagonists, such as the misguided Tag , is that amidst these splashes of colour and flesh, he comes close to making a legitimate point.
Antiporno opens on March 23
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