After the work of art that is Perfect Blue, I was really looking forward to watching this one. Boy did it deliver.
I love Satoshi Kon's works for how well his messages and themes intertwine with the direction and the story. Miracles in Tokyo Godfathers and existentialism in Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress is no exception, it is vibrant and colorful with the theme on films or being an actress. I end up writing so much about his films more than any others because they have so much to say, some things are out right obvious and some much deeper. These are just the kind of films I cherish.
The movie follows an actress named Chiyoko as she narrates her life story in an interview presented through specific scenes from multiple films she had acted in and memories of her past. It's so seamless that not a moment felt disjointed from the interview or her own story, there's a sense of confidence in the style but it never feels overindulgent. They do retract to reality at times but rest assured, the narrative remains consistent, the setting varies. I believe her interviewers or specifically the camera man are an audience surrogate, since he is the only person who gives a natural reaction to every change in setting and scene
The entire narrative follows her attempts to find a mysterious person she met when she was young. She makes use of films to extend her reach. Making herself known all around just for him. While the film ends with her never actually getting to reunite with him, it really made me question the contribution of this 'mysterious man'.
My theory is that he or rather the 'key' she received from him is an embodiment of her passion, the most important thing. To reach out to her audience. There were times she lost it, during which she had succumbed to the situation, be it getting married or getting old and even forgetting why she entered the film world. Towards the end of the film, as she narrates her story, she rediscovers what she always loved. It's amazing how much we learn about ourselves just by saying things out loud. Her final words admit to being in love with herself, the way she always chased him, in other words, her attempts to reach out to her audience. An epiphany she had while holding on to her key.
With Millennium Actress I think I have covered all of Satoshi Kon's films.I will see to it that I rewatch Paprika since it's been a long time but I am nevertheless saddened that we will not see any more of his works.