Sion Sono films are often highly anticipated by Japanese and genre film fans. He’s shown a lot of diversity in his works with lots of violence, lots of weird stuff and lots of surprises. Love and Peace is mostly the latter two and some of the weird stuff will be a total turn-off for some while a total turn-on for Sono fanatics or those who just love Japan’s sense of wacky weirdness.
The movie is about a loser named Ryoichi who dreams about becoming a musician but is stuck in a job as an office clerk where all his coworkers make fun of him, except for one woman whom Ryoichi likes. It gets even worse when he purchases a little turtle whom he treats very well, that is until he flushes him down the toilet. This somehow leads to Ryoichi beginning to realize his dreams to become a rock star musician (i.e. Asian David Bowie).
Up until this point the movie is more wacky than weird as all the actors overact on purpose but that’s when a secret place called “Lost and Found” heaven is introduced. It’s a place where abandoned or lost toys and pets live and that is where Ryoichi’s turtle ends up. It’s surreal and yet the toys act with more restraint than the human characters above ground. There is one human living in “Lost and Found” heaven, a homeless man who repairs the toys and gives them a special liquid that allows them to talk. Sometimes I felt too much time was spent on the toys moaning and groaning about being forgotten. However, there is an eventual payoff as it does merge with Ryoichi’s plot.
The film is quite unpredictable and possibly has some social commentary in there somewhere but I was too busy with WTF reactions that I wasn’t sure were good or bad reactions. It’s unfortunate that the love interest has so little to do and is literally seen as a wide eyed spectator most times. Arguably it’s debatable whether Ryoichi learned anything from the ordeal as inevitably things were all handed to him on a silver platter and everything comes full circle. The real substance and cleverness of the story lies with the “Lost and Found” heaven, in particular the significance of the homeless man.
Fans of Sion Sono will probably like this film (and maybe anyone familiar with Discworld). No doubt it is quite entertaining and funny with some well done musical sequences but Ryoichi is not a character I liked, he goes from being a loser to a jerk and he never becomes a driving force in his own life. Even when he becomes popular and supposedly more confident, he cannot express his true feelings to the woman he likes. That ultimately weakens the film as a whole so I’m a bit mixed about it although I would lean more to the positive side.
Seen in the theatre at Fantasia 2015