BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky Review: Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo & Rosé's intimate confessions are a pleasant surprise
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky Review: Netflix's first K-pop documentary doesn't follow the usual marketing cash cow technique but rather lets the members show an inner glimpse at their world outside of being a global phenomenon.
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky Cast: Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo, Rosé
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky Director: Carolina Suh
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky Stars: 3.5/5
"You know, four girls being in one group is not easy," Jennie cheekily quips halfway through Netflix's first K-pop documentary, BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky. While BLINKS are more or less well-versed when it comes to their idols, the latest documentary comes as a pleasant surprise simply because it allows the members to actually be themselves rather than what they've been projected as so far: a global phenomenon!
While there are certainly traditional, stylised aspects followed as per the recent artist-centric documentaries, director Carolina Suh adds fresh new flavours in the tightly-packed 80-minute BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky. *SPOILERS ALERT* We kickstart BLACKPINK's rise to fame story by going inside their studio session with producer Teddy Park, who is equivalent to being the fifth member of BLACKPINK. Hence, it's him who individually gives us a character sketch into each member and what sets them apart as an artist. Especially, as to why they work so well together.
It's the small moments where the members are there for each other that's more significant as BLINKS have often gushed about their strongly knit friendship. There isn't any awkwardness between the four unique personalities who come from drastically different backgrounds. We see their comfortable camaraderie during a simple dress rehearsal where they're hooting over how sexy Jisoo's costume is as she awkwardly waves at them. You see it when Rosé breaks down during BLACPINK's final concert as a part of their world tour last year, which leads to the other members breaking down as well while Jisoo as the unnie wipes their tears, quipping that she doesn't cry. It's those subtle moments that flaunt why they have become as big as they are and why they're such a well-oiled machine.
While you would assume that it will be a 'bed of roses with a sprinkle of tears' narrative, somehow BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky strays away from it. What really works is the solo interviews of each member where they speak (Jennie and Rosé speak English, Lisa speaks Thai and Jisoo speaks Korean) in detail about their individual journeys, even before becoming trainees and eventually forming BLACKPINK. Jennie takes us to an extremely intense pilates session explaining how she's always hurt after every concert while Rosé gets vulnerable during a solo recording session before breaking down over how truly homesick she's been. Lisa admits that she sometimes feels her over joyful attitude might be a mood killer while Jisoo tells her makeup artist that her relatives considered her the ugliest from their family. We're also shown montages of their childhood where the bubbly girls are seen with a fierce determination as they show off their raw talent which was evidence enough of why they each caught YG Entertainment's competitive, stoic eyes.
While speaking about their boarding-school like trainee days where it was the survival of not just the fittest but the most constantly talented, we get a third-eye perspective as the members chill in an empty theatre hall mortified by their younger selves during audition time. Moreover, the members also address how being a K-pop star is a lot of work and dedication, where they have to give up on innocence much earlier than they would have liked it. They discuss how they're not allowed to smoke, drink or get tattoos while also shedding a tiny spotlight on how their personal lives have been the most affected. It's always pack and travel, pack and travel, the girls muse in their shared dorm.
However, the strong, independent members don't bask in the sorrow for a long time as they're clearly focused on staying relevant while putting out music which is more personal than usual. As first revealed, BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky reaches its culminating point with their iconic Coachella 2019 performance where we're taken backstage. Whether it be Jisoo being sick with a broken back to Lisa jumping up and down exclaiming for water besides ear drops for Jennie and Rosé, once they're on stage, it's such an astonishing shift to perfection.
There's also the perfectly placed talk about what K-pop means and while the members don't dwell too deep into it, Teddy does make a point when he says it's just Korean pop, it's just the language difference. On the other hand, the members rather talk about the legacy they want to leave behind as BLACKPINK in the overall music industry.
But, Coachella 2019 isn't the most memorable part of BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky. Rather, it's the closing few minutes when the girls visit a restaurant they used to visit during their trainee day, for a delicious meal. During their conversation, the girls discuss where they'll be 20 years from now. Almost all of them agree that they'll be married by then while they're not so sure about parenthood.
Why this comes as shocking is because BLACKPINK recently broke several records with their first official studio album BLACKPINK: The Album and have miles to go and achieve, yet, the members are practical enough to think not just about the next few years but even a world after BLACKPINK. While they do light up the sky, Suh somehow grounds BLACKPINK as four relatable women just trying to make it through their 20s as worldwide superstars in BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky.