Movies tell grand tales for us all to enjoy. For an actress however, they make up part of their life, and Millenium Actress takes us through one actresses career in an interview to remember. Chasing after the man she loves, prepare for reality to bend and integrate into her acting roles. Easy viewing this is not.
The story is about Genya Tachibana, a huge fan of the actress Chiyoko Fujiwara, who manages to nab an interview with the famous woman. Now an old lady, Chiyoko goes through her life in acting, though the real tale is about the necklace with the key attached. This key was owned by an artist she helped out during the war, considered an enemy by the fascist government. With him on the run, Chiyoko vows to meet with him once more. As we go through her movies, we go through her hunt for the artist. A thrilling romance which is always her getting one step closer then two steps back.
The movie blends in with the love story, making the film a little confusing to grasp at first. Reality is mixed with the films Chiyoko plays in and even the interviewers get wrapped into the action. It is a stunning display of animation as we have Chiyoko running through the snow in a World War setting, then charging through castle grounds on horseback, and finally into space. It jumps through eras with great fluidity and while the story is one of love, it is also one of magic, memories and harsh reality. Even when the reality we see on-screen tends to be hazy. To see such grand set pieces linking the chase together shows the master class direction the great Satoshi Kon had. The two interviewers get a little pushed back in these moments, but they soon become more involved with the action and story, perhaps the only real oversight in the film.
Millenium Actress ends up being a beautiful, imaginative and emotional film, effortlessly chaining the present day with the past, movies and a chase for love. While it is a little confusing as it introduces the play within a play method of storytelling, once it clicks you will be rooting for Chiyoko all the way even when you know the outcome. And so, my Satoshi Kon journey comes to an end. A great director who will be missed. May he continue his quest of movie making in the next life.