Antiporno: the name itself is a shocking declaration, a manifesto of grotesque and extravagant proportions. This is not a porno; this is an artistic expression. This is not a porno; this is a liberation, this is an experiment, this is a finger to the system! Part of Nikkatsu Corporation’s relaunch of its vintage Roman Porno collection, Sion Sono’s feminist art/softcore porn film takes the viewer through a dramatic, erotic ride with endless twists and turns that’ll leave them disgusted with the fact that they’re slightly turned on by all of it. It’s shocking and it’s bizarre, but it’s provocative. It’s deviant but deliciously, and most importantly, purposefully so.
This exploratory, visceral take on a Roman Porno follows the rules of the niche genre: it’s shot in less than a week, comes in under 80 minutes, and has at least one nude or sex scene every ten minutes. These very particular rules help us make sense of this whirlwind of a movie that’s filled with obscenities and extravagance at every turn. Perhaps it’s best not to focus too heavily on the plot considering it periodically gets turned on its head and takes a new direction, backtracks, and starts over at an almost breakneck pace that’s nearly impossible to keep tabs on. At rise, we are introduced to an eccentric young artist, Kyoko (Ami Tomite), who takes great joy in torturing and humiliating her submissive assistant, Noriko (Mariko Tsutsui), until an offstage director yells “cut!” and a new story, that of actors shooting a porno, unfolds. As Kyoko oscillates seamlessly through worlds and relives moments of sexual discoveries from her past, it becomes unclear which world is the reality and which is the play, but it almost doesn’t matter. This film is a statement, not a story.
While adhering to the rules of the genre, Sono makes a feminist exploration of it. He uses depictions of extremely taboo sexuality involving everything from incest to rape fantasies to sadomasochism as a means to free the women in this movie by playing out the extremes. When Kyoko peeps on her parents having sex at night she is then confused at their anger when she has sex on camera for a porn film. She’s left with a same sense of shame and arrives at the virgin-whore paradox that faces every woman. In this way, Antiporno reclaims women’s sexual freedom. Perhaps the most poignant moment comes when Kyoko auditions for the porno and says, “My nakedness is not smutty, make it smutty. my body is not porn, make it porn”.
Sono asserts, sex in and of itself is normal but we’ve made it taboo. Women are not free, although we all like to pretend they are, to be extravagant with their sexuality. Antiporno is obscenely extravagant in every way: from the lofty, poetic dialogue to the over-the-top acting, to the downright indecent subject matter. It’s borderline self-indulgent but heck, sometimes you need to be to make your point and Sono certainly makes his. Antiporno walks the line of smut and art, porn and sex, and releases women from the binary of the two.
Antiporno is released in selected cinemas on 24th November 2017.
Watch the trailer for Antiporno here: