“Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” opened with the four girls silently staring back at a sea of cameras and personnel on computers minutes before they debuted in 2016. It makes you feel awkward for a moment. Then, it launches into a montage of the Blackpink we know now: dominating huge stadiums, greeting screaming fans, breaking records, and appearing in TV shows and venues around the world.
It set the tone perfectly for what the film tells us: Yes, they’re superstars, but here’s where they started and why there’s so much more to Jennie, Lisa, Jisoo, and Rosé.
Individual sections in the earlier part of the film detailed each member’s life before training. The mix of the girls reminiscing about their childhood and home videos of them as little kids was endearing, showing a stark difference from the glamorous and fast-paced lives they live today.
It also gave us a glimpse into their unique relationships with performing and how the way each member decided to take the path that led them to Blackpink was different. These differences made the rest of the film – where we learn more about how seamlessly they still function as a group and as friends – all the more satisfying and heartwarming.
“I think what makes K-pop K-pop is the time that we spend as a trainee,” Jennie said.
As they recounted their trainee days, the documentary shows footage of that era: them as teenagers belting out notes and mastering choreography in a studio during monthly evaluations where producers decide if they’re good enough to keep training with them or not.
All of them remembered the struggle of constantly having to keep up with the standards just for all their years of training to not be a waste. But all of them ended their accounts with the same sentiment: they always knew giving up wasn’t an option. And it’s in this that the documentary perfectly captures the work they put into what their lives and legacy have become now.
The Heart Underneath It All
The documentary shone the most when it humanizes the four women that most only get to see on a screen or stage.
It’s moments like when Jisoo and Jennie attempt to make tanghulu in their kitchen as they laugh over a failed first attempt and talk about how they see each other as family. Or when Lisa and Rose tease each other in a café as they recount how they found solace and support in one another during their trainee days.
One of the best moments that show us who they are – their dreams, their humor, their friendship – is a mundane one. It’s the last scene: them eating in a restaurant they frequented as trainees as they mused about their future, talking about getting married, traveling the world, and their lives at 40-years-old.
“Aren’t we going to make a comeback?” Lisa asked. The group erupted in laughter at the thought and joked about still performing in their 40s.
It’s a nice, bittersweet look into their awareness that this won’t last forever and what they imagine their lives to be post-Blackpink. However, with their undeniable talent and, as the documentary shows, their unwavering passion and hard work, the end is definitely not in sight yet.
As Jennie said earlier in the documentary, “I feel like we’re doing a great job, and we have more to show you guys. It’s just the beginning.”
“Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” is now streaming on Netflix.