Seen: On dvd on our projector set-up, rented from netflix.
For years I was convinced I'd seen this movie, until I realized I'd been confusing it with another anime film whose name I don't remember. How embarrassing. For my love of Satoshi Kon I knew I had to see it as soon as possible. Kon's first feature as a director, Perfect Blue follows mildly-successful pop singer Mima as she attempts to transition into serious acting. After landing a recurring role on a dramatic crime series, her desire to distance herself from her girly bubblegum pop image leads her to more and more drastic action, such as agreeing to act in a graphic rape scene for the show and later posing for nude photos. She is plagued by visions of her former self, eventually sinking into paranoia and confusion as this "Other" Mima tries to take over her own life.
Satoshi Kon. I miss him a lot, actually, because as far as I can tell he could only create breathtaking, immersive works that continue to stun after repeated viewings. I'm grateful he left behind such beautiful, engaging films but I continually mourn the loss of such a phenomenal talent (plus it sounds like he was a good guy in real life).
Ok, sad thoughts aside, Perfect Blue is, naturally, a marvel. The effortlessly fluid blending of Mima's actual experiences and tortured hallucinations is fantastic, and there is a constant questioning of what is real and illusion by both the character and audience. Kon utilizes animation as a medium in captivating and inventive ways, often proving what feats it can accomplish that live action cannot, and ultimately it is gorgeous to view even if some of the styling and colors are a little dated. The approach to technology dates it a bit too (there are literally scenes of a lady explaining how the internet works), but its commentary on popular media's insensitive and exploitative tactics remains ever-relevant. Celebrity drives multiple people in this movie crazy, and no one is surprised.
The surface premise of a cute pop singer trying to be an actor is deceptively light, as the script gradually builds up elements of psycho-thriller and slasher-horror. It is always unclear to what lengths this story will go, holding me rapt as I became fully engrossed in Mima's fracturing psyche and the obsession and death that surrounds her. It is intense and at times disturbing, and I'm still thinking about it a week later. Now I'm thinking of revisiting Paranoia Agent...
Pair This Movie With: As many have noted, Aronofsky is a big fan of this film and in fact owns the rights to an American version since he lifted shots from it for Requiem for a Dream. Its plot and themes are also incredibly similar to Black Swan, which would make a good pairing I think.