It seems fitting that the first set of reviews would be bunched together in one post, considering I watched both films within the same week and haven’t been the same since. I want to say that these films were on my watchlists or radar for QUITE some time and thankfully Shudder had both films available to check out and I am so thankful that I got to see them.
Today, I’ll discuss 1997’s Perfect Blue and 1980’s Possession and how both experiences were similar but very, very different with lasting impact on little ole me.
Let’s get started! Oh! Also, spoilers beware and these films are (at the moment) available to watch on Shudder.
Perfect Blue (1997) is a Japanese anime film that is a deep dive into the world of being a pop idol or J-Pop idol and what all comes with that when you decide to walk away to something else. We are following our lead protagonist, Mima, who is part of a trio J-pop group and she has decided to leave the music world to become an actress. For me, I have had some experience with J-pop, back in the 2000s when I came across the singer Ayumi Hamasaki and it was a different music industry over there. Now, in my 30s and I am a fan of certain artists or groups within K-Pop, this movie made MORE sense to me.
Mima goes through many, many transformations to shed her pop star idol status while trying to maintain her sanity. Oh did I forget to mention that she is being stalked? She’s being stalked by someone who knows way too much of what is going on in the inner circles of her life. Her complaints, her thoughts, her cries, and commentary, all show up online in “Mima’s Room” website, which for the public and fans, think that it is her or someone pretending to be her. Mima is constantly distraught about the choices that she makes to further her career like nudity for a sleazy photographer, performing a scene where her character is sexually assaulted, all these things to further make it harder for her to come back to music if she wanted to.
I won’t reveal all the BIG details of who was involved in the end but it’s a social commentary on that kind of idol lifestyle of being perfect, doing the right thing, staying quiet, not making a fuss or a scandal.
The biggest takeaways were how beautiful the animation was, the use of the color red as a prominent color and the struggles of differentiating what is real and what is just in the mind. This is a psychological thriller and it is done very, very well. I got so confused at times of what was happening and if it was real and if Mima herself was really seeing things or experiencing them. Was it a dream? Did she commit certain crimes? Who is for her? Who is obsessed with her? The lines of her work and her personal life weave and interconnect and it makes for a great rollercoaster ride of a film.
I gave Perfect Blue 5 stars on Letterboxd and I’m sticking to that here. It stars Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shiho Niiyama, Masaaki Okura, Shinpachi Tsuji, Emiko Furukawa and is directed by Satoshi Kon.
And here we go into Possession (1981), a film that has earned cult status for a reason. We go from one film that is trippy in animation to another film that is trippy in all sorts of ways.
I remember on my current journey of consuming horror, I heard rumblings and saw posts and remarks about this film and never found any way to watch it. Now thanks to Shudder, I am able to see this cult film that was banned in the past. And I can see why. Possession is an allegory for divorce, how ugly it can be, how dark and distraught either party can become and what I also got from it was manifesting in their guilt and grief into creating almost copies of each other, like the qualities they liked of each other.
I can’t forget the blatant abuse both parties do to each other. I can’t forget the color scheme of whites and blues. I can’t forget Isabelle Adjani’s performance in the tunnel scene, the breakdown of her sanity and “possession” so to speak. Sam Neill does a great job of showcasing a male protagonist as sympathetic yet manic and confused. The ending is even more confusing yet chaotic but it also makes sense with what I just saw. I can’t forget this film at all. It’s up there with how Hereditary made me feel.
I think Possession puts you into two camps: you love or you dislike it a lot and I can see the arguments for why people might not be for this. This isn’t a fun, lovely couple we’re watching. We’re watching toxic behavior and the deterioration of a marriage. And the awful part is that there’s a child in the middle who understands way more than we know, and I wonder what that’s about. Maybe just something simple about kids are smarter than we give them credit for. They see everything, they hear everything, they know everything.
Possession stars Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill and is directed by Andrzej Żuławski and was given 5 stars. Yup, still feels right to give it 5.
Have you guys seen either of these films? What did you think of them? Leave a comment below!