by John A. Riley

This film documents the complex relationship between Kazuo Hara and his ex-wife Takeda Miyuki. He and his current partner (the sound recorder and producer of the documentary) follow Miyuki as she flouts the conventions of Japanese society with a mercurial zeal; a lesbian affair, conceiving a child with an African-American GI, setting up a refuge for women and challenging local gangsters, resulting in her being assaulted.

Miyuki seems a complex character, passionately devoted to good causes yet unforgiving towards Hara (or is this a case of filmmaker casting himself as victim?) It emerges that, like Hara, whose often-quoted catchphrase is “I make bitter films. I hate mainstream society”, her life is a sort of calling, dedicated to overthrowing the status quo at all costs, whether it be the rigidly-defined roles of Japanese society or the stark life of a port town with its constant demand for booze and prostitutes.

Here, form and content are closely intertwined; It’s a film where grainy, monochrome home movie footage, on-screen microphones and jarring cutting all refuse the slickness of mainstream cinema, just as Hara and Miyuki want to refuse mainstream society. What they want to replace it with is something that is intimate, not in the re-assuring, coccooning sense but an intimacy that is starkly naked, brutally honest and unapologetic. The bizarre audiovisual synching (the result of the film being spliced together from home movies and on-the-fly sound recordings) is not presented with any kind of disclaimer, apology or explanation. Whether the results were intended or not, they are just there, and we viewers must simply get used to them. This is a film that trips over its own tongue to tell its story.

 With its uncomfortable levels of close-up physical and emotional intimacy, its explosions of violence and its matter-of-fact depiction of the physical details of birth, Extreme Private Eros Love Song 1974 is as vital a piece of cinema today as it was when it was first released. Although including the year in the title seems to anchor to a particular time, this film is far more than a film-diary or navel-gazing home video project. With its restless striving to intertwine personal experience and political struggle, this is an uncomfortable but affirming testament to the maddening complexity of our intertwined relationships.