A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movie Review: Black Swan

Black Swan has finally made its way to the Metroplex, and I was lucky enough to get to see it this weekend! I've heard so many things about this movie, so I was really pumped to see it, and it didn't disappoint. I'll give a general impression of the film for anyone who hasn't seen it, spoiler free!

From the moment the poster leaked online, I knew I was going to be interested in this film. I've never seen Natalie Portman in such a light before, almost unrecognizable. When I found out that Darren Aronofsky was going to direct, I was slightly frightened because his movies are ALWAYS hard to watch. They are unapologetic and raw. I was mostly basing this conclusion on Requiem for a Dream, which, to this day, is a movie I can hardly re-watch. However, as the opening grew closer, buzz for Portman's performance grew louder, and I knew there would be no question of whether or not I would see it, even if I was scared of what might be on screen.

Some of you may have heard that it is classified as a horror movie. This, I can attest to, because even though it is a psychological thriller, there are moments I absolutely did jump because of some frightening images. Also, there is a bit of gore. I didn't know just how much feet and finger nail violence would upset me until this film. Others of you may have heard it classified as a "sexual thriller," which is a term I didn't even know existed until this weekend. As for this label I would say I not only just learned of its existence, but now fully understand its meaning. There is a lot of sexuality in this film. It's not really gratuitous as sexuality is a huge catalyst to some things Nina (Portman) does, why she does them, and why she goes through what she goes through. However, I can understand if you are sensitive about sexuality (or maybe not even sensitive, but just moderate about it) you may not enjoy this film. You cannot escape the sexuality. It is throughout the entire film, so take this into consideration before stepping into the theater. You must be prepared, to give this movie a fair chance.

As for my impression, it was amazing. It's very rare to see a movie that is so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Plus, blood, sex, and scares don't really bother me. Natalie Portman's performance should get her an Oscar nod, at least. And Mila Kunis was nothing to sneeze at. It was easy for the audience to believe that she was either or both a playful, care-free girl or a scheming, jealous understudy. As a fan of The Texas Ballet Theater and as a person who has seen Swan Lake at least 3 times, it was a frightening look at what might be going on behind the scenes, haha.

I was impressed by how the story is very straight forward with what is going on. Nina is already losing her mind as we enter the story. There is never any question of what is real and what is in her head. It's fairly obvious. And yet getting from the beginning (where I honestly guessed how the end would go) to the actual ending, you are still shocked by what you are seeing. It's nearly perfectly done. The camera work, the lighting in every scene, spot on for the mood and tone every time. Perhaps this is Aronofsky's most complete and best film to date. (Though that's hard for me to say, as I adore The Wrestler so much.)

A+! Now bring on the Awards Season!


  1. Ahhh!!! Now I want to see it even more than I already did! I hope I can see it when I come home for Christmas!

  2. Thanks for addressing the sexuality in your post. I mean, when I heard that some of the scenes were classified as extreme all I could think about was that Aronofsky is always extreme and as terrible as the end scene was on Requiem, it would not have kept me from seeing the movie. So I really appreciate getting an actual opinion on how someone felt about that aspect of the movie. I am hoping that knowing what to expect will help because I really want to see this movie.

    And the Texas Ballet Theater is AMAZING! I was able to convince my husband to take me to Romeo and Juliet and it was beautiful! And I bet to see Swan Lake would be stunning and it is definitely on my list to see when it gets done again in Dallas. Also at the top of my list would be Dracula.

    I am glad to hear that this movie does not disappoint! It makes me even more excited to see it!

  3. My friend Ashlie had season tickets for 2 years in a row, so I saw almost every show they did for 2 years running. Dracula was AWESOME! They had pyrotechnics and everything. It was one of my favorites!

    Let me know what you think once you see it!

  4. The sex is handled in a way where it's not just forced eroticism, there is a point to it all. A lot of people complained that the sex in films like Mulholland Drive was just eroticism for the sake of it, but I think in that case, and in here, they just want something to complain about. In any case, I'm glad you talked about it in your review. I really have nothing else to add other than that this is probably my favorite film of 2010 so far (haven't seen True Grit, The King's Speech, The Fighter, or Another Year, seen TRON: Legacy, but the embargo is still up on that one). Natalie Portman gives, in my opinion, the best performance of any actor, male or female this year. I can't see how she could lose the oscar at this point, and I'm so excited to see her and Christian Bale finally get their due. My review is really all that I have to add http://filmstudiesandothershenanigans.blogspot.com/2010/10/austin-film-fest-black-swan.html

  5. With regards to the overt sexuality and extremism of the film: Neither is a legitimate concern. This isn't porn, or even art-porn, since both of those labels engender a certain voyeuristic pleasure to be had by the viewer. "Black Swan" is too intense, too propelled by the neurosis of its protagonist, to deliver such cheap, tawdry thrills. I suspect that anyone who is excited about this film because of the well-publicized encounter between Portman and Kunis will find the experience to be largely underwhelming if not unsettling.

    This is an intense film for sure, but it is not exploitative. It does not veer toward glorification of its depravities, nor does it slump toward a maudlin slant. I wonder if Aronofsky's casting of Vincent Cassel as the ballet director might be a bit of a nod to people who would misinterpret the film as vulgar? Vincent has the (dubious) distinction of having appeared in Gaspar Noe's infamous "Irreversible", a film whose sexuality is several billion times more brutalizing than anything Aronofsky will ever put on film.

    It should go without saying that I love this film as I love all things which approach perfection in both form and function. I think you're right; this is probably Aronofsky's most complete work to-date. I'm terribly excited about his future.

  6. Charles, what a beautifully worded comment. You need to link me to your blog NOW. Are you on Tumblr?

  7. I actually am, but I so rarely post there... AND it looks like tumblr is actually still undergoing some sort of technical problem.


    When it starts to work again, that's where I can be found :)

  8. Your writing is awesome & very detailed. You should look into writing for a newspaper, Audree...REALLY! Start with one of the local papers that doesn't have one. It might not pay well, but you will have your start. Then, after you are published for awhile (& can give a good showcase for your talent), we can go bigger...."American's voice" instead of "Sarcastic Cynical film critic who hates Life" like many of them are.

  9. So I finally went and saw the movie last night. And Oh My Gosh. It was easily one of the best movies of the year and Natalie Portman deserves to get recognition for her role. I loved how Aronofsky managed to parallel her life with the story in a way that didn't seem overtly in your face. But then again, I wouldn't expect any less from Aronofsky and his brilliance. From the first second after the dream I could feel the tension the entire movie.

    And I loved that even though I had an idea of what was going to happen I was still thrown for a loop and that even after all of that I was still coming out of the movie wondering if some parts were real or not. I also loved that Aronofsky didn't shy away from the dancing and showing what dancers go through,. Some critics complained that it was to gory and that they got tired of bloody feet, but having been a dancer and on pointe before I got to say he did a spot on job of showing the truth.

    And on the sexuality of the film (since I asked specifically about it I thought I would say what I thought) I would say that everything that was said either in your post or what was said in comments was spot on. It was done in a way that added to the storyline but wasn't vulgar. I would still say I was uncomfortable during some of the scenes and I did have to look away, but I am also one of those people that is more sensitive about sexuality in films. But even with all that it would not have kept me from seeing the movie. And I would strongly urge people to not let that keep them from seeing the movie. If anyone has seen Requiem for Dream and can remember the last five mins of the movie (I can't imagine anyone not remembering it if they had seen the movie) I would say that what is in Black Swan is no worse than that last scene.

    And because I love Clint Mansell I just have to say that he did a FABULOUS job of combining the beauty of Tchaikovsky with the horror of what was being portrayed in the film. It was a beautiful score and I really don't think that the movie would expressed itself as much as it did without the music. I am definitely picking up the soundtrack.

    Overall the movie was great and it is another hit from Aronofsky and I would have to say it is his best film yet and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

  10. I forgot to mention... Happy Birthday!

  11. Thanks Christine! What wonderful comments!