I would appear that I am celebrating the anime extravaganzas of Satoshi Kon, and this time it is Millennium Actress. I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way and say that it is very similar to Perfect Blue, in that I’m not really certain what is reality when I watch this movie.
This is kind of why I like watching Kon’s films, because they are deliberately disjointed to the point where I have to look up the Wikipedia entry just to get a semblance of the plot. Often, it is difficult with films like these because I don’t know if this is just me not paying attention to the film or the filmmaker’s writing.
Here is the basic semblance of the plot: a reporter named Genya tracks down an actress named Chiyoko Fujiwara. She is an actress from when film was just becoming a great industry. Before she became an actress, she met a revolutionary who is also a painter. She helped this man to escape the authorities, and he gave her a key. Chiyoko becomes an actress in hopes that this mysterious man will see her again and track her down. I guess she loves him, or something.
So, the meeting with Genya and Chiyoko, that serves as a framing device for what would normally be a flashback storyline. What is strange is that Genya and his wisecracking reporter friend are mysteriously transported into Chiyoko’s flashback. They don’t seem to be surprised by this whatsoever.
From there, we see Chiyoko’s movie career and the films that she stars in. The strange thing is how these realities overlap each other and it is very difficult to tell what is reality, or at least the movie’s representation of it. The same technique is used in Perfect Blue, but instead of dealing with the topic of losing one’s mind, Millennium Actress is about dealing with memory.
If you have ever stopped and thought about your life, you might discover that there are a lot of inconsistencies to it. You might also discover that there is a purpose to it. In the case of Chiyoko, her purpose was chasing this mysterious man, and she never was able to properly settle down. This is one of many themes in the film, another being how life is often about the chase to get a reward, and not necessarily the reward itself.
Something tells me that more can be gained by watching this film again, and perhaps I will do that again.