I honestly knew next to nothing about it, which was about twice as much as my 2 guests knew. All I knew was this was the latest from Satoshi Kon, the guy who gave us “Perfect Blue.” I have seen 3 amazing anime movies in the last month, and I swear, they’re all trying to top each other. This film tied with “Spirited Away.” Actress is about Genya Tachibana, but not really. Genya is a director who is asked to do a documentary on a film studio that after 70 years is closing its doors. As his subject, he chooses Chiyoko Fujiwara, a superstar actress who made the studio successful for nearly it’s entire history. The only trouble is, Chiyoko became a secluded hermit 30 years ago. Genya and his cameraman meet with Chiyoko, and to help her open up about her past, Genya gives her a small brass key, which has a very mysterious, and long history. Chiyoko tells them about her past, how she started in films, and why. All her memories of her life are blended seamlessly with her films; they jump in and out with such a fluid grace that is completely breathtaking. Joining her in her memories, enacting roles and following her through her long life are Genya (who actually used to work on the crew when she was making films, and is a huge fan of hers) and the young cameraman.
Very few movies can make you laugh your ass off and make you cry a few scenes later, like this film can. It touched me on a level that apparently didn’t reach to my two male guests. They didn’t like the film half as much as I did. But I’m always a sucker for a great story, centered on a romantic plot that drives the heroine the way this film did.
I set off in this review not to spoil everything about this film, and I think I’ve done a pretty decent job. (I went overboard in “Spirited Away”) When Dreamworks finally release this film in 2003, make sure you’ve got your tickets.Rating: A