Monday, 11 July 2016

Perfect Blue

Year:  1997
Director:  Satoshi Kon
Screenplay:  Sadayuki Murai, based on the novel Perfect Blue:  Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Starring:  Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Okura
Running Time:  81 minutes
Genre:  Psychological thriller, horror, drama

This dark, animated Japanese thriller tells the story of Mima Kirigoe (Iwao), squeaky clean singer in all-girl pop trio CHAM!  Deciding to branch out, Mima quits the band to become an actress.  Her first role is in a gritty, explicit murder mystery drama on TV.  After quitting, Mima finds herself harassed by anonymous telephone calls and notes, she also discovers a website containing a blog, purportedly written by her, describing her daily life in disturbingly accurate detail.  Soon, people connected with the show turn up brutally murdered and Mima begins to suffer bizarre hallucinations where her pop singer persona and the plot of the show, bleed into her real life.

This film was originally intended as a live action drama series, but, after the production facilities were damaged in the 1995 Kobe earthquake, it was decided to make it as a direct to video animated film, with Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo credited as "Special Supervisor" to help sell the film internationally.  The film is a genuinely disturbing horror thriller, which in a way is even more disturbing because of the fact that it is animated, giving it a dreamlike quality.  It deals with perception, reality, identity and image.  Even before she becomes an actress, Mima is still playing a part as a pop "idol" (in Japan idols are manufactured pop stars who are there to be cute, have a squeaky clean public image and be good role models).  Mima is constantly hounded by press and fans, there is a huge pressure on her as she tries to reinvent herself and her image.  People are forever projecting their own ideas and desires onto her, she is constantly being discussed and told what she should be doing.  The idea of "looking" is important as well.  Mima is often seen through screens, camera lenses, mirrors, windows.  The animation is dated, and there are some things that show it's age (Mima is unaware of the internet and has to have it explained to her), however it has mostly aged well, and some elements, such as on-line harassment, are sadly even more relevant.

It's a powerful film with an intriguing central mystery, although I would warn you that it is violent and disturbing.


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