Perverse, if stylishly-handled, thriller from writer/director Sion Sono is half murder case procedural; half female empowerment via prostitution; half prim housewife bursts homely boundaries. No wonder the film feels over-stuffed. Divided into five chapters, but pretty much functioning as a traditional three-act, the film opens as two mix-and-match corpses, found in the ‘Love Hotel’ district, are discovered to be the half human/half mannequin remains of one. The crime, told in flashback, plays in kinky contrast to the well-adjusted homelife of the female chief detective on the case. But Sono peels back layers on all his characters, including the detective, revealing unexpected connections & role reversals so you’re never quite sure who’s holding the reins in the mind, power or sex games. At times playfully grisly, at others winkingly suggestive (hard ‘R’ sex; ever growing sausage samples), and a strong, freaky denouement with a clever tag ending to paper over a lot of repetitive action.
DOUBLE-BILL: It’s now a bit of a hoot, but THE EYES OF LAURA MARS/’78 (script by John Carpenter) took the kinky sex thriller/murder-mystery to a new level in its day.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Sono errs badly plugging in Mahler’s Adagietto for a bit of unearned emotion. But after getting Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Ravel & Rachmaninoff in BIRDMAN, why complain?