WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Record-shattering Korean girl band, BLACKPINK tell their story - and detail the hard-fought journey of the dreams and trials behind their meteoric rise.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
In recent years, Korean pop (K-Pop) has amassed a multitude of fans across the globe. It's a genre of music that has crossed the language and cultural divide.
In four years, BLACKPINK has become the highest-charting Korean act on the Billboard Hot 100. They have topped the magazine's digital song sales chart three times, broken numerous online records and became the first female Korean group to perform at Coachella. This is a highly impressive resume.
The documentary, BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky, directed by Caroline Suh (Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat) gives fans a never-before-seen inside and personal look into the lives of the famous band members and their brand.
In one of the first scenes, we see the foursome listening to their single, Sour Candy with Lady Gaga, and what struck me is their pure wonder and delight at hearing the song. It's a theme that runs throughout the film; they are these megastars, yet sometimes even they can't believe that this is their lives and that their dreams have come true. They never take their success for granted, and there is a somewhat sad awareness that this might not last forever.
In one scene, Lisa says: "It doesn't matter if we grow old and get replaced by a new younger generation as long as there is still someone talking about us because they will still remember how we shone so bright".
Each member gets a turn in the spotlight - there is Jennie, the soft-spoken rapper who isn't afraid to speak her mind, Jisoo, the unnie (big sister) of the group, Rosé, the shy singer-songwriter from Australian and Lisa, the heart of the group, who hails from Thailand. In each of their segments, you get to know them more intimately, how they think, how they feel and the experiences that led them to where they are.
They were trainees for five years, and as they detailed how gruelling those years were and how hard it was for them to leave their families at a young age, some had to learn a new language and missed out on a lot of 'normal teenager' experiences. They explain how they got through it because they had each other, and from their interaction, you're able to witness the genuine bond that they share.
But that was only half the work, once they had their successful debut, it was as Jisoo says: "Everyone was waiting for what we were going to do next." It's hard work, and I could only sit back and watch in admiration at how these four put in the work to keep chasing their dreams.
The second half of the film focuses on their first world tour of Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia and their Coachella performance. The footage is raw and vulnerable, showing their behind-the-scenes struggles as endless flights, and performances take a toll on their bodies and mental health.
The highlight for me was their Coachella performance, where they did not expect a lot of people to attend. When they took a peek from behind the stage before their performance to see just how many people were there, one member said: "There are so many people here."
The film ends on a poignant note, with the four having dinner and talking about their future - being married, travelling, having kids, and a comeback tour. Strip away the idols status, and they are just like the rest of us.
One thing that I took away from watching this documentary is that this is a tough, high-pressure industry, where the mental well-being of artists has to be prioritised. From being a trainee to debuting, to the next single and the subsequent tour; it's non-stop work without a proper break. It looks admirable on the surface, but it does make me question if it doesn't cross the line. In recent years, we've seen several K-pop stars who have taken their lives after battling depression and the reasons behind are barely discussed in detail, even to attempt solutions.
With all of that said, for Blinks, BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky will make them feel a little bit closer to their idols. For new fans (like myself) and non-fans, it's a come-up story that will inspire you to chase your dreams despite any obstacles you will face and try to live in the present.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: