Perfect Blue ★★★★½

Satoshi Kon's distinctive talent at blurring the lines between reality and fantasy was maybe never better demonstrated than with this deeply unsettling psychological thriller. It follows Mima, a former pop singer turned actress whose shifting public persona and perception causes her sense of identity to become increasingly unstable. A range of chilling concepts such as the price of fame, celebrity obsession, cyberstalking, objectification, disempowerment and the dangers of letting an idealised image take over your true personality are all explored with fervent precision. The unpredictable, labyrinthine structure only accentuates the feeling of unease that seems to imbue each frame and the concise running time results in efficiency without losing any effectiveness.

The manner in which the narrative becomes progressively fragmented to parallel Mima's disorientation is nothing short of magnificent. Her day-to-day life, past memories and fictional acting part all bleed into one another in a way that creates a palpable feeling of uncertainty. The entire film builds a sense of dread through the uncomfortably abrupt transitions, oversaturated colour scheme, unflinching bursts of violence and superbly eerie score by Masahiro Ikumi; the second half in particular keeps on raising tension to an almost anxiety-inducing level. What's also impressive is how subtly Mima is defined as a character; the decision to portray most her background and personality via visual storytelling is a clever one, it adds to her believability which evokes even more sympathy for her situation.

Given the thematic elements it is dealing with, Perfect Blue is aging incredibly and disturbingly well in the age of social media.

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