Who are you? What’s going on? Perfect Blue was the first of the great Satoshi Kon’s feature-length works and it brings about the confusion as reality blurs. To change from one career to another sure brings about a lot of problems. After years of neglect due to the much talked about violence and terrors, I finally embrace the madness and find a film which is smart as it is chilling.
Perfect Blue tells a story of internal conflict. Mima Kirigoe decides to give up her pop idol career and become an actress, much to the dismay of her fans. As she changes roles she finds that jumping into an acting career isn’t quite so smooth sailing as she’d expect, having to play seedy parts and put up with the negative comments from her old fans. After a slow build up which carefully sets up her life, underlining problems and choices, we see her plunge into reality meltdown after she takes part in a rape scene for the program she is involved in. Another Mima is created who claims to be the real one and she battles against a stalker, and ultimately herself. It’s an interesting thriller which the ballerina reality warp Black Swan seems to have taken inspiration from, and there is always the unease about what lies around the next corner.
Perfect Blue contains some incredibly violent acts and sexualised content, but the two work with the problems of our heroine, rather than being there just to strike controversy. Seeing such an innocent cheery pop singer having to play out rape scenes and pose for nudes is a clear visual display of her having to deal with filth just to get somewhere, an innocence slowly dying out. It brings apart her confusion on what is real and isn’t and the animation plays well in bringing out some striking visualisation. The stalker is disgusting to look at, the way her other identity seems detached from gravity and the murder scenes switching between her stalker and herself help bring a sense of mind jumbling to the audience. Once the pace picks up it is hard to completely be sure of what is actually going on. It has you guessing all the way up to a rather clear but surprising twist at the end.
Perfect Blue is a clever film, one which works the mind and brings a feeling of uncertainty about how change and pressure can affect things. The many who loved Black Swan should love this too, as the two films share similar themes, and even share imagery and ideas. Satoshi Kon was a director who loved to play with the problems of the mind and years on Perfect Blue remains a film which will leave an impact on the viewer. Just don’t start asking who you are.