November 10, 2008
Why is it that I always end up watching movies like this at 4 am, in my room, alone?
STORY – Perfect Blue is a very loose novel adaptation that was originally intended to be (and eventually made into) a live action movie, and it’s very clear that the story presented in the film would have been very fitting for a live action treatment. As one of Satoshi Kon’s earliest works, I found it interesting that his trademark themes are so prominent already — reality and fantasy feel indefinitely blurred, and the audience is left as bewildered as the characters they’re witnessing. Mima’s acting career puts her in a role that becomes increasingly similar to her real life situation, and the stress of having to perform less-than-desirable roles coupled with a bizarre stalker-like website personality claiming to be her throws her world into chaos.
The story itself has a very classic feel to it — a person’s insecurity and doubt after making a major life decision isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s an easy-to-relate to subject, and there are many ways to make that simple storyline interesting. Kon’s expert storytelling and the incredible cinematics of Perfect Blue make it well worth watching. The camera angles and the way scenes are spliced together is incredible. The more Mima becomes uncertain of her world, the more the audience becomes unsure of what they’re seeing. Was that last scene a dream or reality? When the scene repeats — is the second version reality? Or is it a dream? Or were they both dreams? The ambiguity of what is and isn’t can be frustrating at times, but in the end, the effectiveness of the storytelling outweighs any real need to know what was and wasn’t.
CHARACTER – Excellent. Mima’s psychological descent is well-played. Her insecurity and uncertainty about her decisions and identity is easy to believe, so it’s easy to sympathize with her — always an important thing. This allows the resulting drama some leeway as far as realism goes, and you’re able to take on a lot more without thinking that any of it is over-the-top or ridiculous. It’s hard to elaborate too much on her ordeal without giving everything away, but yeah… Mima’s character is great all around.
The secondary characters are of mostly of the sort that play one specific role and that’s it. This works well enough since the film is essentially about Mima’s mental and emotional state, and that makes detailed exploration of other characters more or less pointless. Still, Me-Mania (the stalker) and Mima’s managerial staff are very effective in that they give away many clues as to what’s really going on without explicitly revealing anything. It’s a good mystery, and it’s killing me to not talk about certain characters, but I hate giving away spoilers even more. :3
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – Perfect Blue had some amazing artwork in it — the sets and scenes were very well rendered and I was particularly pleased with the realistic treatments of the female body in the various scenes that featured it. It isn’t often you get nipples and pubes, anyway. There were some strange stylistic quirks in some characters though; thinking back, if they did it on purpose, it was a very clever way to set some characters apart from others, but otherwise, it just leaves you wondering why they failed on the facial anatomy here and again when, for the most part, everything and everyone else looks excellent. The animation was smooth and beautiful, and again, despite being an animated film, the cinematography was very much suited for a live action film. The way scenes transitioned and were put together was just amazing. Very well done indeed.
MUSIC – This movie had a very, very effective soundtrack. Suspenseful scenes were enhanced by suspenseful music, but it wasn’t so in-your-face that it felt over-the-top or corny. I’ll be the first to admit that some of those jumpy scenes freaked me out, and the music played no small part in that. The less dramatic scenes naturally had less noticeable music. Mima’s former pop trio CHAM!’s music was pretty generic-feeling, but that was probably the point. It was cute, and that was about it.
VOICE ACTING – I saw this movie subbed. The cast was pretty average for the most part, but I really appreciated Junko Iwao’s role as Mima because Mima herself is an actor. The range of emotion she goes through is pretty amazing, and the voice acting in those very high-tension (rape) scenes is very convincing (maybe even disturbingly so).
OVERALL – I really enjoyed Perfect Blue. I walked into it knowing little more than that it was a Satoshi Kon movie (that’s a plenty good enough reason to see it!), and to that extent, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The reality/fantasy theme that’s so prevalent in Kon’s later works is already here in full force, and I’d venture to say that the blur is even more effective here than it is in later works like Paprika and Paranoia Agent. It’s worth repeating again that the cinematics are nothing short of amazing. The story is polished and has an excellent climax and ending; the character(s) are well-developed and well-played. The music is fitting, and the acting is top notch where it needs to be. Maybe watching it alone at 4am made it all the more suspenseful for me, but I’m sure it’s just as enjoyable to see with friends in the middle of the afternoon. ;3