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Guilty of Romance [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85::1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 18
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • Run Time: 112 Mins.
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 28, 2011
  • RRP: £20.42

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005DE1G42[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

The third and last in director Sion Sono’s “hate” trilogy (Love Exposure; Cold Fish), Guilty of Romance is a shocking and brutal exploration of self-discovery and power through depravity and sexuality.

Set at the beginning of the 21st century, an horrific murder in Maruyama-cho, Shibuya – a “love hotel” district – is uncovered and a detective (Miki Mizuno) is investigating the case. Meanwhile, an interweaving story unfolds of Izumi (former gravure model Megumi Kagurazaka). Married to a famous romance novelist (Kanji Tsuda), Izumi seems trapped in a loveless marriage of routine, but she is ever the loyal and demure housewife. Soon, however, Izumi begins to wander from her home during the day when her husband is away, if only at first to escape the boredom. She gets a job at a local grocery store handing out samples to patrons, which leads to her discovery by a modeling agent to pose in suggestive pictures. Accepting the invitation, she shows up for the shoot, but it turns out to be a setup to get he there for a porn shoot. The doors are suddenly thrown wide open for Izumi to explore her sexuality in ways she never imagined.

Still behaving the dutiful wife at home, Izumi is soon walking the streets during the day in her sexiest outfits, which leads her into a lustful “love hotel” liaison that ends badly, but results in her meeting the hooker Mitsuko (Makoto Togashi) who is leading a double life. Mitsuko will become Izumi’s mentor on her descent into the prurient, decadent, and violent underworld of selling herself for sex.

Sono’s film is riveting from its very opening frames of the policewoman finding the dead body on a rainy night and he gives not a thought for what may or may not be the acceptable social mores. This is the stuff of the darker side of human sexuality, and, with not a little debt owed to Nagisa Ôshima’s In the Realm of the Senses, Sono does it with great originality and intellect.

One might ponder what his meaning is in all of this? Is he making a grand statement about female empowerment through selling sex for money? Many will see that as absolutely revolting, but dig deeper and one will see that the women in Guilty of Romance are all brutalized by men in some fashion once they reach their “awakening.” Perhaps it is a call for women to take control of their sexuality, whether it be for money or otherwise, whatever the deeper meaning, there is no denying that this is directing without a net, and it is a powerful and often difficult film to watch, but brilliant nonetheless.

Worth noting is that this release from Eureka is marked as “112-minute International Version.”

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Guilty of Romance as a film is rich with color and nuanced lighting. In particular red hues seem to be highlighted most of all here. Unfortunately, fairly high gamma levels and low contrast lead to a rather flat looking image with greyish blacks and soft, murky detail. There are also hints of aliasing, particularly early on, such as the first scene where Izumi begins writing in her diary. You can spot some jaggies around her pen, then later around her calf as she sees her husband off to work.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

A film like this really needs a surround soundtrack to help develop the mood and atmosphere, but, alas, we are given only a LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit) mix. It sounds a bit dull overall with no strong sense of high frequencies, but the midrange is natural and lows are actually quite good even without the LFE. There is good dynamic range and a natural sense of space and ambience around the “score,” which consists mainly of baroque and late romantic classical music, in particular the adagio from Mahler’s Symphony Number 5.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1.5/5]

There isn’t a windfall of extras here, but certainly the new audio commentary from fil critic Jasper Sharp is worth listening too and the interview with the film’s star Megumi Kagurazaka is definitely worth a look.

The supplements provided with this release:

  • New commentary with film critic and festival curator Jasper Sharp
  • Interview with Megumi Kagurazaka (1.78:1; 480i/60; 00:38:01) – New and exclusive interview with the lead actress filmed in Japan in June 2011.
  • UK Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

This is a remarkable work that is impossible to look away from once you begin watching. Even in its chaotic descent towards an ending – odd characters, unexpected turns, unpredictable conversations – Guilty of Romance never seems to become ridiculous, only more sublime. Despite what is a not so great looking high definition transfer, I have to recommend this one.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005DE1G42[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]

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