Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Black Swan

Going to see Black Swan, was quite the experience. Katy and I arrived downtown and there was a very long line despite the three theaters showing the movie at Fox Towers. The 8 o'clock showtime we had arrived for, was sold out. So we purchased our tickets for the 10pm showing and hung out downtown. Then there was the line to be seated, and then there was the problem with the projector that delayed the start of the film. But finally the trailers for other Oscar fare began (I can't wait to see The King's Speech). I'm impressed with the Portland movie-going public, the movie does not even release wide until this Friday.
 From the get-go, Natalie Portman's character Nina is repressed and in an odd childlike state. This is best demonstrated by her relationship with her mother, played by Barbara Hershey. Her bedroom is pink and full of stuffed animals (and her mom helps her get ready for bed). The mother-daughter issues are just part of the craziness. Nina is driven and completely dedicated to being a perfect dancer. As she seeks perfection in the dual role of both the White and Black Swan, she becomes obsessed and starts to lose her mind. The ballet's director (Vincent Cassel, the aerobatic thief in Ocean's 12) encourages her in a range of, shall we say, unprofessional methods. There are glimmers of her breaking away from her mother and becoming an independent adult, but all the weird stuff that's going on in her mind, gets in the way. Lily, portrayed by Mila Kunas, is the antithesis of Nina. She's wild, uncontrolled, her technique may be weak but she expresses raw emotion. I don't think Lily has violently bad intentions against Nina. Its my interpretation that Lily's most extreme actions, are all in Nina's head. It speaks to the script and the direction of the film on how all these elements subtly build and crescendo to conclusion.
The music is fantastic. Throughout the film it sets the creepy, confused tones, without being over the top or too obvious. Excellent cinematography, though I must say, I was not at all prepared for the gore of the film. One scene in particular still makes me shutter days later. I was definitely not sitting back, enjoying the movie. I was uncomfortable throughout, which I think was the intention. It must also be said that Winona Ryder is excellent as the drama queen ballerina Beth, who has been made to retire.

I could go on and on, listing the specifics but I'm not going to rattle off all the nuanced details that make the film what is, but I would sure love to talk about it after you see it. I've read that the ending needs interpretation or to be explained, but unlike my experience with director Darren Aronofsky's previous picture, The Wrestler, I have a clear understanding of the end of Black Swan. I know what happened.
I recommend seeing this movie in the daylight, and be prepared to talk about it the whole ride home.


  1. Can't wait to see the movie- I'm watching it with a classmate that is a retired REAL live ballerina. Can't wait to see what she thinks of the dancing performances of Natalie, as they won't be up to par with professional dancing. Plus can't wait for the psychological thrills!!

  2. it looked intense & your description proves it! i will have to check it out ... maybe a renter for me though