Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Perfect Blue (1998)

Haunting and surreal, this psychological thriller anime revolves around a pop star as she begins to take on serious film roles in an attempt to subvert her squeaky-clean image, and the resulting uproar that follows. Her manager begins to grow distant and disapproving, her most rabid fans feel betrayed and disillusioned, and the star, Mima, begins to have episodes of confusion where she fails to differentiate the shift in the tone of her performances from the changes in her actual, real-life psyche. More and more, the line between reality and fantasy blurs, and Mima reaches a point where she cannot distinguish real-life threats and her own personal demons.

The line between art and the artist is the focus here, as the main tension in the film comes from Mima's emotional and mental strain while attempting to expand her oeuvre into previously unexplored depths. Like Black Swan, this film shows how her commitment to achieving a perfectly realized, true performance leaves her so emotionally and mentally vulnerable that she seems almost predestined for confusion and hallucinatory nightmares. Her drive is her own worst enemy, and is that which alienates all of the previously stable forces that allowed her to ride her bubble-gum pop star image into stardom, which she now resents to the point of abandonment. As with his other works, Paprika and Millenium Actress, director Satoshi Kon is more concerned with his characters' internal mindsets than any clear, coherent narrative or structure. Unlike Paprika, the central conflict here is so engrossing and, surprisingly, contemporary (this came out more than a decade before Miley Cyrus tweeted her first nudie pic) that it transcends its trappings of reality and allows the dream-like framework to function in tandem with, and not against, the emotional content of the film.

Highly Recommended for fans of surreal, mature animation, or, specifically, Satoshi Kon. While I still prefer Millenium Actress, with its decades-long scope and delightfully twisty narrative, this is a more satisfying and moving piece than Paprika, which remains the better-known film.

1 comment:

  1. Good review! The film is definitely a real eye opener into an idol switching careers in the entertainment industry and how some people can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

    Would you also mind reading my take on the film and commenting? There are some things I am confused about and need answers too! Plus to me, it seems like a reflection of the industry!