I must be becoming sentimental in my later years. By the time the movie was over, I found myself almost at tears. This is very different from the reaction I had when I first saw the film, almost a decade ago: I clearly recall finding the movie to pale in comparison to Kon’s previous film, Perfect Blue (which was a psychological thriller) and thinking Millennium Actress to just be kinda mediocre at best. Yet now, here I find myself, holding back tears and smiling like a deranged idiot, with a twister of emotions twirling inside myself, it’s all a bit embarrassing to admit. I suppose the film’s story resonates better when you’re old and experienced enough individual to fully appreciate, not to mention understand, the significance of reminiscing and what bittersweet power your personal memories are embedded with. I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for stories that involve fictional artists and showcase their careers, so it’s no wonder the film had me enthralled immediately and before too long started to play me like a fiddle.
This film really does a great job showcase just why Satoshi Kon was such a master at his craft. He always manages to find ways to get you emotionally invested in the characters with very little effort and once the words “The End” hit the screen, you find yourself left completely stunned, having just witnessed another one his emotional roller coaster rides. You laugh, you cry, you are emotionally moved and perhaps even discover something new about yourself. Millennium Actress even goes a step beyond the usual sphere of greatness that’s expected of Kon’s work, as the picture has such overwhelming force behind it that it is almost as if the film is about to burst through the screen. The film truly is what a motion picture at its best is suppose to be: a grand, majestic experience to go through with emotionally touching story behind it. Frankly, I’m completely at loss for words over how beautifully Kon is able to tell such a complex, interlaced story that mixes everything from Chiyoko’s civilian childhood all the way to her iconic film career into such an elaborate, and in hindsight obvious, central metaphor that defined her entire life. Millennium Actress is a stunning tour de force where ‘epic’ is probably the only word that come close to do justice to the scale and quality when trying to describe the film.