Old Movie Review: Black Swan

I used to post my movie reviews on my Livejournal account. I’m sure my readers there, who came for the fanfiction, feel much better now I’ve decided to separate the two. So my organizing brain wants me to repost these reviews here to keep things nice and tidy.

Movie: Black Swan.

My first thought when I left the theater was this: I can understand why this movie has been nominated for so many Oscars, but I also know why I wouldn’t give it one (except maybe Special Effects if it were nominated for that).

You might think Black Swan is just about the all-consuming competitiveness of professional ballet, but you’d be a little wrong. It’s also about the mental state of Natalie Portman’s character, caused by the all-consuming competitiveness of professional ballet. There’s a bit about sexual harassment in the workplace too.

Portman does a great job, but in the end the transformation (from white to black swan) is a result of the visual transformation we see, thanks to special effects and make-up. It’s used subtly at first, but by the end takes all the credit for the brilliance of the climax. Portman does what we already know she can do: cry in a ridiculously believable way, and I mean that sincerely.

Of course you can’t review Black Swan without talking about the lesbian sex. Maybe it’s because that’s all I’d heard about this movie (“There’s lesbian sex in it!”) but I felt it was uncomfortable to watch, and it had nothing to do with it being two ladies. It just felt mechanical- let’s get this gratuitously shocking scene out of the way before the audience realizes it’s not hot at all, and that the guys actually did get screwed into watching a movie about ballet.

The character I found most interesting was the mother. Her over-protectiveness was difficult to interpret: was is purely selfish and destructive to her daughter’s creativity? Or did the mother know something, perhaps about a hereditary illness that showed itself in her obsessive painting?

The big problem for me with this movie was that I wasn’t sure what I was watching. A scary psychological thriller disguised as a drama? An exposing view on the ballet profession? A story about personal demons? A family tragedy? I felt confused and it made me lose any connection to the characters. Should a viewer decide early on what it is they’re watching, I’m sure they will get more out of this film.

The ending was what I really wanted to comment, but I won’t give it away. Let’s just say Aronofsky one-upped Tarantino on that one.

Dice roll: 3

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