Millennium Actress (Sennen joyû) (2001)

Satoshi Kon’s contribution to the animation medium was nothing short of absolutely breathtaking, as the director created films that blurred the lines of fantasy and reality and placed great emphases on the feminine energy. After the mind blowing “Perfect Blue,” Kon delivered what is arguably one of the best animated films ever conceived. Now bring granted a limited run in theaters nationwide, “Millennium Actress” is a wonderful experience you have to see for yourself, as it’s stunning, and absolutely surprising in the way Kon celebrates the adventure that is life.

After the legendary Ginei Studios shuts down, filmmaker Genya Tachibana and his assistant are tasked with interviewing its reclusive star, Chiyoko Fujiwara. After retiring from the spotlight 30 years prior, she re-emerges for an interview for the pair. As she recounts her career, Genya and his crew are literally pulled into her memories where they witness her chance encounter with a mysterious man on the run from the police. Despite never knowing his name or his face, Chiyoko relentlessly pursues that man while experiencing a life changing war, romance, and her own ambitious pursuits.

“Millennium Actress” is a wonderful tribute to the concept of life and how often times the pursuit of a goal can whisk us away in to endless confrontations that can change us. I wasn’t completely sold on the premise of “Millennium Actress” originally, but the more the narrative unfolds, Kon sucks us in to the surrealism that he specializes in so brilliantly. You can never really be sure what is happening before our eyes and whether what we’re seeing is a recollection or some sort of scenario being dreamed up. And that’s what makes “Millennium Actress” so compelling. The further in we sink, the more we’re given a peek into the mind of Chiyoko Fujiwara and how she viewed the pursuit of the mysterious man all those years.

Satoshi Kon, as always, had a real love for the concept of cinema and storytelling and uses the whole element of life as a means of conveying how we’re living out our own film. Whether we realize it or not, we’re the protagonist in our own story, and we live as various characters, pursue a multitude of sub-plots, and even have our own climaxes. Whether or not the climaxes are tragic or happy is solely dependent on how we interpret them. “Millennium Actress” garners incredible animation with seamless pacing and excellent color that make Chiyoko’s odyssey occasionally dark, but incredibly vibrant as well.

Satoshi Kon was a master of merging reality, fantasy, and dreams together, and “Millennium Actress” is a shining example of the way he mastered the formula with deep character pieces. I admittedly have never seen Kon’s masterpiece until now, and I have to admit that I loved “Millennium Actress.” If you enjoy incredible storytelling and vibrant fantasy, this will assuredly provide an emotional experience.

Coming to Select Movie Theaters Nationwide, on August 13th Subtitled in English with its original Japanese & 19th in its new English Dub.