Black Swan: Two Beaks Up

Natalie Portman as the titular Black Swan

I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz surrounding this movie for months now. It just opened nationwide over the weekend after spending a couple of weeks in limited release. I saw it 2 weeks ago because I was pressed. So for those of you that have been wanting to see it and haven’t yet, and for those that have seen it and want to compare opinions, hopefully my thoughts will help either side. Well, I gotta say…I loved it. I would see it again actually. If you’re not into the “arthouse” type of film, then maybe it might not be for you. There are elements thrown in there that may be too farfetched for someone who takes movies too seriously. A quick synopsis: Nina (Natalie Portman) is a technically brilliant dancer who gets the much coveted part as the Swan Queen in her ballet company’s production of Swan Lake. However, she struggles with the charisma that she needs to pull off the other half of the role as the sexy and mysterious Black Swan. Enter Lily (Mila Kunis). A natural talent who excels in the areas that Nina lacks, but isn’t as technically sound. Nina’s obsession with perfection takes a turn when she becomes obsessed with Lily. Competition, janked up ballerina feet, and breakdowns ensue.

I’m coming from the mindset of a person who wants to be entertained, but not insulted by a film. I don’t know a whole lot about ballet, or cinematography, or direction or anything like that so I can’t speak to any technical aspects of the film or the dancing. And who cares?

Did it look cool? Hell yes. Every visual element seemed intentional and worked with the feel of the movie.

Was the acting great? Definitely. Natalie Portman nailed this role. I wouldn’t be surprised if/when she starts winning awards. Mila Kunis was great, and was able to pull off sexy without that “cute” undertone that she seems to carry in most of the other roles I’ve seen her in. The woman that played Nina’s mom was a little bit Mommie Dearest which added a creepy tone to the mother/daughter dynamic. It really worked.

Did the plot make sense? Yes, but you have to resist the urge to compare it to movies that probably do “psycho-thriller” much better than this film. Some things about the movie may seem ridiculous if you think about it, but just go with it. Ride it out. You really don’t have to go too deep or get too intellectual with this one. It was mostly believable to me. Anything that can successfully combine ballet, dopplegangers, and sexuality in one movie deserves SOME sort of award. If they somehow threw a kraken in there I would rate it the best movie of the year. As usual, I found myself laughing at parts that probably weren’t supposed to be funny. At this point I’m not sure if it’s the scripts, the acting or just me. Anyway…The only thing that sort of bothered me about the movie was the suggestion that the only way Nina could “loosen up” and be “find herself” was by masturbating and experimenting with drugs/alcohol. Huh!? That was an after-school special that I missed. Whatever happened to “learning to laugh at yourself”? Or going to a comedy night? Or maybe, I don’t know, try a new haircolor? But I suppose if she did all that then the movie would be hella boring. Imagine that montage. Or at the very least, there’d be no room to fit in Natalie/Mila lezzy action. Oh, but I digress…

Was there nudity? Nah, but there is a LOT of sexuality drizzled in it. Mostly girl-on-girl (shocker!). **Kanye shrug** Meh, I’ll take it. It wasn’t gratuitous, I mean, there was definitely a point to it. It’s just that I have to wonder if THAT is really the reason why there is so much hype surrounding the movie…

Overall, I think that this is a film that people are either really going to love or really going to hate. I can’t see there being an in-between, but I definitely think that it’s worth checking out. If you’re not a ballet buff, you can still appreciate the training that the actors went through to become believable dancers. If you’re a film buff, but not uptight, you’ll probably enjoy the stuff that counts…the acting, the visuals, and the story. Probably one of the most memorable moments for me (without spoiling too much) is the bathroom scene when Nina discovers a hangnail. I still cringe when I think about it.

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