At the turn of the millennium, Ginei Studio's dilapidated buildings are set to be demolished. Ex-employee and filmmaker Genya Tachibana decides to honor this occasion with a commemorative documentary about the company's star actress: Chiyoko Fujiwara, the reclusive sweetheart of Shouwa Era cinema. Having finally obtained permission to interview the retired starlet, an enamored Genya drags along cynical cameraman Kyouji Ida to meet her, ready to put his lifelong idol back in the spotlight once more.
Hidden in this secluded mountain retreat is a thousand years of history condensed into one lifetime, waiting to be narrated. Chiyoko's recollections take them on an illusionary journey through Japanese cinematic history that transcends the boundaries of reality; the saga of her acting career intertwines with her filmography, the actors in her life blend seamlessly with the characters on screen, and the present melds with the past. Though the actress may have retired at the height of her career 30 years ago, the curtain on her life's stage has yet to fall.
Dramas normally put me to sleep, but Millennium Actress never has a dull moment. Every scene jumps to a different point in her life. The storytelling always has you questioning if the scene is from one of her movies or one of her memories. The filmmaker and his cameraman also periodically appear in the background. Sometimes they're spectators and other times the filmmaker portrays actors in her movies. These constant, unpredictable shifts in the storytelling keep the movie interesting. A little bit of fantasy and sci-fi is sprinkled into it, too. The movie has won several awards--it's excellent!
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