Black Swan (2010) [REVIEW]

 

You might be noticing a trend in the movies I’m reviewing, or at least the fact that the past few haven’t really been “horror” films, and rather are films that won awards, or some shit. Or at least, I haven’t been reviewing as many horror movies as you’d like, so you’ll have to deal with it. For example, Black Swan, is a critically acclaimed film, but only dork losers would call it a “horror” film. To this day, I have yet to see the trailer for this movie, which I think is a good thing, considering how many fucking people have been hyping this movie since it came out, and the trailer would have made me dislike it before even seeing it. I do remember the poster where Natalie Portman has on shitty eye makeup, and I also know that this has something to do with dancing, and that Darren Aronofsky is kind of insane, but generally in a good way. Oh, and I got a comment yesterday about spoilers in The Town, and this is just a reminder that I will probably always post spoilers, except if the enjoyment of the film hinges on what the surprise or twist is. For example, I am going to tell you the ending of this movie, yet I don’t feel as though the ending was a surprise, nor did the enjoyment of the movie increase or decrease with the ending.

 

I need to do more reviews of more movies featuring more women who wear more spandex and look more like prepubescent girls and post more pictures of them…don’t I?

Natalie Portman plays a dancer named Nina who lives with her crazy mother who clearly failed in her own attempt to become a ballerina. Nina has the opportunity to take the lead in a famous director’s version of Swan Lake, with that director being played by Vincent Cassel, who is always awesome in everything. In the audition process, Cassel’s character explains that for the lead role, Nina will have to portray both a White Swan and a Black Swan, one being good and one being evil, and that despite being an incredible White Swan, he believes she doesn’t have what it takes to be the Black Swan. Lucky for her, she proves herself enough to get the part. She’s nervous that a newcomer named Lily, played by Mila Kunis, will take over the part if she fails, yet sparks up a friendship with Lily anyway, who is nothing but encouraging. Cassel starts becoming more and more sexually explicit with Nina, physically engaging with her as well as instructing her to touch herself when she has the opportunity, hoping that it will bring out a different aspect of her that is required to play the Black Swan. She takes this advice, and then realizes that her mom was asleep with her in the room while fucking her own hand. Awkward!

 

I’d fuck him. I MEAN, IF I WAS INTO THAT SORT OF THING…I GUESS…MAYBE…

In addition to the stress of feeling like she isn’t good enough and nervous about Lily, Nina also is apparently scratching her back intensely without even knowing it, to the point of not remembering her wounds. This has been a problem before, as her mom knows how to trim her nails to stop it from happening, as well as using expensive makeup to cover the wounds. Nina begins to fall deeper and deeper into her paranoid frenzy, picturing her face on other people, going out and doing drugs with Lily, and fantasizing about a sexual encounter with her, which, by the way, takes place 69 minutes into the film. Awesome! Her relationship with Lily, as well as with her mom, starts to reach a breaking point as opening night approaches, with her mom trying to lock her in her room and calling the theater to have her understudy, coincidentally Lily, stepping in for the role. Nina attacks her mom and is able to attend the show, taking the role away from Lily. The ballet has multiple acts and Nina portrays the White Swan in the first act, and does so flawlessly, just how everyone expected her to. When she gets back to her dressing room, Lily is there waiting for her, and there is a violent altercation, which results in Nina stabbing Lily and locking her in a closet. The next act, Nina is playing the Black Swan, and after this violent altercation, goes out and shows herself as the Black Swan as no one has imagined she could, and blows everyone away. Upon getting back to her dressing room to prepare to portray the White Swan once again, she looks at her outfit and sees that she is bleeding from her stomach, and that Lily is not in the closet, but instead Lily knocks on the door to tell her how good of a job she is doing. Nina goes back onstage as the White Swan, and the ballet ends with the White Swan killing herself by jumping off of a platform, and when Nina does this, everyone rushes over to her to congratulate her, only to see the severity of her wounds. When asked what has happened to her wounds, which in hindsight were clearly self-inflicted, she claims that she was trying to obtain perfection, and the film goes bright white, and the credits start.

 

All of the costumes looked like they could have been taken from Björk’s closet. Like, her closet of normal clothes.

Really had no fucking clue that this is what the movie was about. Since I knew some people had said it was scary or disturbing, and in moments it was, I really thought it was going to be something scary. Aside from the obvious fear behind someone who could have such extreme, dual, hallucinated personalities, there were really only a few moments that startled you or took you by surprise. Rather than horror, this film was a manifestation of an individual’s worst fears and anxieties. There were some slow parts, that having just finished the film, I felt a little bored at times, but as I sit here typing out the plot, it sounds a lot more enjoyable than what I remember watching. Natalie Portman’s performance was extremely subtle, to the point that after watching it, I wasn’t really blown away by her portrayal, despite acknowledging she played the role well. Once again, in retrospect, her job was quite difficult, and the role was indeed very challenging, and she deserves more credit than I initially gave her.

 

Since I didn’t talk about Winona Ryder‘s character at all, here’s her picture.

Natalie Portman did a great job, but I can’t really say that she was the one who “made” this film. Aronofsky deserves just as much acclaim, especially for the subtleties he used throughout the film to hint at the things going on within the character’s mind. Despite there being minimal visual effects, there were brief moments where not only was Nina not sure of what she saw, but the viewer was unsure as well. For example, the wounds on Nina’s back looked like scratches, yet the skin looked strange around it as well. As the wounds developed further, it got to the point that it appeared as though Nina was growing feathers, to the point that she even pulled out a feather from under her skin. This effect culminated in her performance as the Black Swan, where she not only psychology had transformed, but further and further into her dancing, her feathers grew and grew and grew, to the point that when the dance was over, her arms had completely transformed into wings. I’ve seen a few Aronofsky films, and they typically are at one end of the spectrum or the other, at least as far as the intensity and complexity of the aesthetic elements as well as editing style. For example, both Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain are both quite ambitious in both style and subject matter, whether it be trying to portray characters in the lowest moments of their lives due to substance addiction or be it their time-traveling experiences because of a fountain of youth. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have The Wrestler, which is a dialogue heavy, character driven piece that was a lot more subdued and “simple”, at least in terms of the technical aspect of the movie. Black Swan started on one end, being mostly about Nina and her paranoia and fear, and gradually got closer and closer to the more experimental end of the spectrum, yet without seeming forced or fake. The more I talk about it, the more I want to see it again, because despite not being blown away upon first viewing, it’s certainly worth another look. Oh, and Winona Ryder was in it too.

 

Wolfman Moon Scale


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