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Film Review: Perfect Blue

Updated on September 18, 2015

Introduction

Perfect Blue is the story of a Japanese idol singer, who ispart of a trio called CHAM. However, the movie's beginning is main character Mima's last day on stage as part of CHAM, since she is going to leave the group to become an actress on a serious TV drama series. What follows is a movie that uses insanity and violence to explore the cultural obsession with pop idols, and the way sexist standards and extremes of objectification and fetishization can harm women.

Summary

The movie, as I said, begins with Mima's last performance as a member of the idol group CHAM. When she goes on to be an actress, she feels a bit of lingering jealousy of the idol group she's leaving, especially when they make the top 100 hit singles with a song she wasn't a part of. The innocent, pure, cute image of an idol singer is vastly different from her new role. The show she's acting in is very serious, violent, and sexual, a crime drama.

Whenever Mima comes home, weird stuff happens. Behind it all is the fact that someone on the internet is making a fake diary blog pretending to be Mima! She has a stalker watching her every move, who knows everything about her, and the stalker is trying to keep up the old Mima, the squeaky clean image of the cute, virginal pop idol.

Things get even weirder when Mima starts hearing and seeing this fake CHAM Mima as a hallucination. Calling herself the "real Mima", she thinks that Mima has become filthy and defiled by taking on a role that involves posing for sexual photographs and participating in a rape scene in the TV show. It's like she represents all of Mima's worst fears come true.

As Mima is more and more haunted by both her stalker and her alter ego, the nightmare only gets worse and worse for her, causing her to doubt reality. I won't spoil the thrilling conclusion, but expect an insane twist that will leave you starstruck!

Discussion

This movie is a kind of predecessor for the live-action Western (adaptation-ish?) Black Swan, which is about a ballerina instead of an idol singer, but both explore these themes of young girls' purity and their role in culture not allowing them to grow up, and both of them are haunted by doppelgangers who taunt them over the fact that they no longer have the purity of girlhood that made them special before they supposedly "tarnished" that innocence. It's interesting because it is something boys don't have to go through; when they lose their virginity or develop sexually, they don't have to apologize for it quite to that extent. But what's even worse is going through puberty in the spotlight; male or female. When this happens, the charms the person has as a child are often considered ruined by them growing up. Society reacting this way might make them think there is something wrong with them for what is actually just a natural fact of life. But I think maybe that people don't like seeing child stars grow up basically because it makes them more aware of their own aging.

But this is also a kind of dark obsessiveness taken to creepy extremes with those idol groups in Japan. Even though to most people, those groups are just factory-farmed pop music where a girl's cute face and bubbly personality count more than for "talent", and where said girls are considered old at 22, these girls and groups get a real following with eerily devoted fans, just like the creepy stalker guy in this movie. Maybe most of those guys don't leave the warm glow of their computer screens (I'm one to talk), but the level of extremes some of them take idol fandom to is sometimes just creepy.

Review

This movie is everything I want to see in horror and suspense films. I like the psychological complexity of the main character, the weirdness of the events of the movie, how things are always going from bad to worse. This is like watching a snowball turn into an avalanche, the horror just keeps getting more and more intense. While it's a movie about how pop idol purity is insanely restrictive and their fans are creepy as hell, it's also primarily a movie about self-doubt and feeling self-hatred. Mima's question often repeated throughout the film is "Who are you?". Is the real Mima the CHAM star who would never stain her white gloves, or is she the hot adult actress who's put her tutu in her past? Or is there another story altogether? What is the reality? You should watch it to find out!

Conclusion

Perfect Blue is the Perfect Scary Movie, full stop. Finding a psychological thriller/drama/horror movie that's half as good is rare. I like it not just for the eerie stalker and the action and violence, but for the character's ordeal of psychological torment. How much of that is self-inflicted, how much of it is inflicted by social expectations? It manages to be philosophical without being boring or navel-gaze-y. (I'm looking at you, Ghost in the Shell.) Basically, this is what would happen if Hitchcock made an anime movie.

5 stars for Perfect Blue

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