FILM REVIEW | A Feministic Deconstruction in "Antiporno"
WARNING: While the following article is safe-for-work, the motion picture discussed is unsuitable for viewers under the age of 18.
Antiporno has what we call the unreliable narrative. The latest in Nikkatsu's Roman Porno revival series, the film scatters about like a frightened puppy in torrential downpour. Because of this, the overall tone of the movie sometimes gives off something more like a play put to screen. Consider this a positive, as it gives film star Ami Tomite a chance to let everything out in the open as she throws herself towards the cruel and harrowing masses.
Written and directed by Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Why Don't You Play in Hell?), Antiporno appears to start off with the character of Kyōko (Tomite) prepping for an interview about her latest work as an author and painter. As she and the magazine crew violate her assistant, a director puts a hold on the scene. Suddenly, the personality of Kyōko and assistant switch, with Kyōko now acting timid as she is berated by her cast mates and film crew.
Soon the worlds of Kyōko are thrown into chaos, as one ponders which is the true reality for her. Is she truly a masterful writer with sadist intentions, or is she but a scared actress trying to find some sexual meaning in her life after her younger sister commits suicide? Wherever she finds herself, Kyōko knows one truth: what's in front of her is a lie crafted by man's treatment of women in society today. As she tries to figure out what her true reality is, the things that made it stable slowly start to rock her perception into a nauseating frenzy.
Unlike Wet Woman in the Wild, Antiporno is not about the search for sexuality, but rather about trying to get away from it. At first it seems like this is what Kyōko wants, going so far as to lie about her age so as to be cast in the role. Soon the banisters that hold her life together tumble over one after another, with her unable to realize what it means to truly have sexual freedom. Her parents tell her one thing about the beauty of sex, but then scoff at the filthiness of the act within various forms of media. It's a double-standard that serves as a jab towards the somewhat conservative stance Japanese society has on sex. (You can have love hotels out in the open promoting people use it for their desires, but heaven forbid someone rent a dirty movie to watch in the privacy of their own home without it being blasted with censors!)
It's not until the very end when Kyōko lays it all down for its viewers as to what this film has been all about. As she is Steve Aoki-ing herself, her explanation becomes a tirade of anger, confusion, and dissatisfaction. While her surroundings become a canvas for a most splattering work of art, Kyōko finds herself unable to escape. Is she trying to leave the movie? Does she want to die like her younger sister? Whatever her reason may be, the fact that she feels trapped leaves her in anguish.
Surprisingly, Antiporno can be considered the art house's take on the current climate between the sexes. A man's world telling their female counterparts that they have all the freedom that they could want, only to have them slam face-first into the glass ceiling above. Sono makes it obvious that we have failed as a society to give equality to both genders for everything, including one's body. It brings to mind an old Jim Jefferies bit: a woman who sleeps with many men is branded a slut; a man who has slept with many women is knighted a stud.
For one of Nikkatsu's Roman Porno productions, Antiporno is shockingly smart with its presentation. It is a rough, artistic look at the way humanity has failed the XX-chromosome population. Women who watch will wonder how one can help the Kyōkos of the world break out of their glass prison, whereas the men who watch will ponder as to why they trapped them in there in the first place. Thanks to a strong performance from Tomite and some sharp commentary via Sono's writing, Antiporno is a dark, unreliable story that shows viewers why sexual equality still goes to the dogs.