2011 / Sion Sono > With Suicide Club and its mass schoolgirl suicides1, Sono exploded onto the international scene. But the problem that plagued that film has continued to persist: A potentially grand concept that don’t translate into a satisfactory cinematic experience. It’s not surprising that Cold Fish, my favorite of Sono’s, is less conceptual and more focused while still taking advantage of his directorial prowess. In contrast, Guilty of Romance is a desert of mediocrity with some oases of wonders sprinkled about.
At its gut, the film is trying to tell us something about the private nature of sexuality, and it starts off spectacularly with detectives discovering a murder victim whose body parts have alternatively been replaced by those of a life-size doll. Setting into motion character studies of three women, Guilty shines the most when we follow the path of a quiet housewife of a respected poet as she begins her road to self-discovery. Played by the gorgeous Megumi Kagurazaka2, her transformation is what will resonate the most with most viewers. The details of her everyday routine, its minor shifts followed by a scene of masterwork in front of a mirror sadly shows the film peaking in the first act. As often happens in Sono’s films, things derail in a manner that some would consider abstractly brilliant while others like myself just find frustrating to no end. Guilty of Romance’s triptych of female sexuality descends into a kind of madness that makes the analysis moot at the expense of a near-rudimentary thriller finale.