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LOVE HOTEL (#HotDocs14 Review)

Hot Docs 2014

Directed by Phil Cox and Hikaru Toda

Just when I think I might be sexually repressed, I discover a whole other crazy level of sexual repression that I am entirely removed from. As desire was and is not to be shown in public in Japan, and for couples with complicated intimacy issues at home, the Japanese created a place where sexuality could thrive in privacy during medieval times. These places were known as love hotels and there are some 37,000 love hotels still operational in Japan today. Directors, Phil Cox and Hikaru Toda take us inside one of these safe sexual spaces and turn the cameras on to see just what is going one behind all these closed doors in their film, LOVE HOTEL. What they find is not only titillating but also fascinating.


Just who visits these love hotels? First of all, 2.8 million people visit them on a daily basis so the answer to the question is pretty much anyone. Cox and Hikaru provide reasons like cramped living and spaces and long working hours as what drives many of the patrons to the hotels. Whatever the factor for booking a room at a love hotel, like The Angelo Love Hotel in Osaka, where the filming takes place, once there, all that sexual repression is thrown on the floor as quickly as the patrons’ clothing. With their inhibitions behind them, many guests experiment with their fantasies, and some of those guests are willing to share these with the filmmakers by inviting them into their temporary bedrooms. Cox and Hikaru show respect for their subjects but these are sexual situations so they show some skin too.


LOVE HOTEL is a compelling and candid look at the extremes between sexual repression and freedom, and just how much one can impact the other. The fact that these hotels are named after love, and not the act taking place in the rooms, only further complicates the divide.

4.5 sheep

#HotDocs14 Screenings

04.26, 6:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

04.28, 6:30 PM, ROM Theatre

05.03, 6:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Click here for tickets.

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