Never really been too sure about the title, but hey, it's a good film.
The whole movie concerns the life and love of Chiyoko, a girl that met her one love in a snowy street before the second World War during the business that Japan had with China and the province of Manchuria. He was a wounded man, being chased by police type folk. Apart from a nasty leg wound, all he had was a picture (which was always kept covered) and a key. After a little misdirection, Chiyoko binds the wound then takes him to her family's store house. He gives her the key then, the following day, gives her the slip. She then spends her almost her entire life searching for this man, though she never found out his name.
She enters the film industry as an actress and becomes very famous, especially during the rebuilding period after the war ended. During this time and the many pictures she works in, she never stops looking. As long as she has the key.
The whole story is told through the eyes of possibly her biggest fan (in more ways than one) who, along with his sidekick cameraman, visit her 30 years after her last appearance and during the demolition of the studio that made her famous. During this, the pair are flung from era to era as they follow Chiyoko from her earliest days right to the end. It all gets going when Genya, her fan and a former worker in the studio, gives her the key, something she lost during an earthquake in that final film.
The movie itself is very similar in style to Perfect Blue, the lead charas bearing a striking resemblance to each other. That isn't such a bad thing. It does help, however, to know just a little bit of the history that was going on around Chiyoko during each bit. Not necessarily the history of the movies she was featuring in, but the history of Japan before, during and after the war. Taking that aside, however, it is quite a tear-jerker, especially at the end. No, I'm not going to spoil that! Suffice to say that you do need your wits about you on this one, though I found the whole thing thoroughly enjoyable.