Sion Sono’s “Love & Peace” – 2015 Fantasia Film Review

Hiroki Hasegawa as Ryoichi in "Love & Peace."  (still courtesy of the Fantasia International Film Festival)
Hiroki Hasegawa as Ryoichi in “Love & Peace.” (still courtesy of the Fantasia International Film Festival)

“Love & Peace” is merely one of several feature films completed by director Sion Sono so far this year.  Despite showing ample evidence of being rushed, it truly pays to give its rough edges a pass.

Ryoichi is a joke…a painfully awkward office worker, so accustomed to being made fun of, that – even while watching a televised news debate program at home – he imagines being mocked by the show’s talking heads.  He dreams, however, of climbing a peculiarly detailed path to rock stardom…a dream he dares share only with a beloved pet turtle that he accidentally – and symbolically – flushes down the toilet.

Borrowing a concept from the “Toy Story” franchise, after travelling through Tokyo’s sewers, Ryoichi’s tiny friend finds its way to a squalid underground home for discarded pets and toys, and an equally discarded old drunkard who serves as caretaker.  In addition to caring for the pets and playthings, the caretaker also provides each new resident with a magic pill giving it the ability to speak.  However, he mistakenly gives the turtle a “Wish Pill” instead of a “Speech Pill,” and the result of which is twofold.  On the one hand, step-by-step, the wishes Ryoichi shared with his pet will be granted.  On the other, with each fulfilled wish, Ryoichi’s ego – and, again symbolically, the turtle – will grow and grow and grow.  Look out Tokyo, there are two new giant monsters in town!

“Love & Peace” received its North American premiere at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival on July 26.  The festival runs through August 5.  For further information go to