Netflix documentary “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” directed by Caroline Suh took Blackpink, one of the most successful girls groups nowadays, to join the ranks of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift as a new subject of a Netflix documentary film.

The film started with a press conference held in 2016 when Blackpink was introduced to the public for the first time, and ended with their sensational performance at the Coachella in 2019. And between, the film looked into plenty of sacrifices these girls made in order to stand on the stage. How to adjust themselves after becoming famous? And how to reposition themselves in this world?

In August 2016, South Korean entertainment giant YG Entertainment launched a brand new girls group Blackpink for the first time in 8 years after the iconic 2NE1. Director Suh opened the film by taking us back to the moment when the girls first time stood in front of the world. The conference room was full of journalists typed and clicked on their keyboards, and these four girls walked onto the stage with shyness and nervousness. The opening scene already revealed the theme of the movie. Even though these four young girls have incredible personality and charisma that can definitely make audiences enjoy the film, director Suh provided an intimate perspective of personal levels behind the glamorous and fame. 

“Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” doesn’t see them as a group but as individuals. Director Suh brought us close to these four girls – Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa – chats on the SUV, and followed them into the studio to listen to their new song “Sour Candy” collaborated with Lady Gaga, which was released in Lady Gaga’s latest breathtaking album “Chromatica”. After that, there are one-on-one interviews with each of the four, leading us to really get to know them from their childhoods, participating in talent competition then becoming trainees, and the first time meeting with the other three girls. 

There is a scene where they sat together in the screening room and watched their practice clips before the group’s debut. The very effective yet cruel business model of “trainee” has indeed made countless Korean groups take the world by storm. However, through the eyes of the four girls, “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” showed us what they had gone through for the dream they pursued. Living in extremely strict training and competitive environment, they also lost normal childhoods without company of family and high school memories. 

Lives are defined by the stage since they were young. When they step off the stage, they feel empty and hollow. Nearly ten years of training made the girls into world-known superstars. At least their long-term sacrifices and hard works have been rewarded and satisfied while at the same time, there were hundreds of young promising trainees who weren’t lucky enough to make it to the end. Where are these people today? What do they think of their peers who used to live and practice together are now one of the most successful girls group in history? 

Director Suh also led us to examine after the rapid rise of Blackpink, how the four faced massive pressure and expectations from fans and public: Rosé is struggling to create her personal work, and Lisa looks back on the swift changes of her life… And they are all grateful to meet and support each other.

The film ended up with the four returned to the restaurant they frequently dined in when they were trainees. They talked about their visions for the next 10 years like ordinary teenage girls with big dreams of living in Paris, traveling to New York, and meeting other superstars… Director Suh didn’t bring many in-depth views into “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky”. We may never know what will happen in the next ten or twenty years, but at least we can be sure that Blackpink still has a long way to go. There are prices for fame, yet these K-Pop girls are just about to fly high and shine like the brightest star in the sky.

GRADE: B

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  • Distributor: Netflix
  • Production: RadicalMedia
  • Director: Caroline Suh
  • Available for streaming on Netflix October 14, 2020

Read the review in Chinese

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