BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky

BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky ★★★½

Documentaries about girl groups are always faintly terrifying to me. It’s the idea, I think, that healthy amounts of success come packaged with unhealthy amounts of attention; our ravenous celebrity culture seems designed to eat girls in their mid-20s alive. But it also seems designed to put them on the kind of pedestal that’ll propel a debut LP to No. 2 on the Billboard charts and lead to a first-ever performance at Coachella. The rough comes with the smooth. The stars shine bright – but then they inevitably burn out.

This is all readily apparent in Caroline Suh’s new documentary Blackpink: Light Up the Sky, a surprisingly intimate look at the meteoric rise of Jennie, Ji-soo, Rosé and Lalisa, from the rigorous boot-camp-meets-boarding-school K-Pop industry to global superstardom, including that well-received first-of-its-kind Coachella performance. It isn’t a puff piece, though. In a sense it exposes a deeply exploitative culture that lets young women achieve everything they ever wanted, but at a price and only for a while. Stars burn bright and light up the sky, and then they fade out and die to be replaced by a new generation of next-big-things. It’s bleak.