Monday Movie: Millennium Actress
Somehow, small-time documentary-maker Genya Tachibana has managed to arrange an interview with his idol, the legendary - now reclusive - actress Chiyoko Fujiwara. As Chiyoko tells the story of how she fell in love with a dissident artist and first became involved in film, Tachibana and his reluctant cameraman are drawn literally into her story - past and present, real events and acting roles, all merging seamlessly.
Millennium Actress could probably have been a live action film, but hand-drawn animation allows writer/director Satoshi Kon to blend disparate scenes into one another with ease, to portray images that are perfect and impossible, and yet exude deep emotional veracity. This is a film that tells a story on a personal scale while allowing incredible flights of fancy, that's moving and profound without ever losing its sense of humour and fun, that toys expertly with pacing and viewer expectations.
I always struggle to decide which of Satoshi Kon's films is my favourite, but in the way it weaves an unexpectedly subtle story into an imaginative and vibrant animation, I'd say this is the one to demonstrate his true potential as a filmmaker. A potential which is now, of course, sadly and abruptly fulfilled.