Sunday, 26 December 2010

Black Swan

Dir: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Pi)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey, Ksenia Solo, Benjamin Millepied, Sebastian Stan
USA, 2010

Seen: December 3, 2010

Reason to see: Mostly because it will be nominated for lots of things, plus art director looks great & I'll see anything dance-centric

Every year there are a few films that I call ‘one of those’ films, meaning on of those films that I feel like I just ‘have’ to watch. Not because I’m really interested in the movie, but because of the fact that they are films from certain directors or on certain themes. Films that will likely be nominated for awards in multiple circles, will be on many a top ten list and are sure to permeate into pop culture and have influence onto other films in the years to come. Black Swan is ‘one of those’ films this year for me.

Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a ballerina in a dance company who is about to mount a production of Swan Lake, but artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is angling to cast the role but is very clear that their dancer needs to be very emotionally versatile, with the ability to be both innocent and alluring. A lot to ask, no? That for me, is where the problems began because it is a lot to ask not only for a character but for the audience as well. It’s certainly too much to ask of our protagonist Nina who is innocent to the point of it being confusing how she got where she is, her lifestyle and her own forward trajectory. She isn’t versatile, but she is consumed with perfection and if you like the journey that explores the pain of perfection, than this film is decidedly for you.

On paper, I would be interested in Black Swan it purely for the fact that it’s set in a dance world and has fantastic, and fantastical, art direction. The trouble is, Black Swan is not a dance film. It’s set in the world of dance, but it is not a dance film. Things that happen in the film, would never happen in the world of dance. Every giving some breathing room that the film needs for it’s aloof off-centre on purpose misdirection to keep you unbalance, there are still things that would never fly in the world of dance. I will give it that it has great art direction, costuming and make up, which I actually wish we got to see more of because it was absolutely stunning.

The emotional tone of Black Swan is thrust at us through unbelievable amount of pain and pressure that Nina puts on herself over and over again. It’s not pleasant to watch her do this by any means. Plus, it’s got a whole sexual thriller element to it that just wasn’t working for me. I feel like people will go to this as a drama and walk away getting to see some of the racier scenes of the year like some kind of added bonus.

I went in thinking it felt like Single White Female, but dance and I left feeling the same way – except that it feels like people will say that Black Swan is racy and edgy. I didn’t think it was either. But as I said, for me it was ‘one of those’ films of the year. I went. I saw. I’ve moved on.

Shannon's Overall View:
I didn't love it
I may watch it again
I'd recommend if you are prepping for awards season and/or if you like psycho sexual thrillers

13 minutes of preshow including at least 10 commercials and 3 previews: Barney's Version, Rabbit Hole and 127 Hours

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010


Elizabeth said...

"except that it feels like people will say that Black Swan is racy and edgy. I didn’t think it was either."

YES. I thought it was like the production of Swan Lake in the movie itself: they kept telling me it was sexy and visceral without actually showing me why this was the case.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Oh, it's awesome to know I'm not alone on that Elizabeth - and you are so right, they kept telling us, but not *showing* us!

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