Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Black Swan

I honestly can’t remember when I first heard about Black Swan.  Really all I knew about the movie at first was that Natalie Portman was in it and ballet was involved in some way.  Even after I started to see some trailers and read some things about the movie, I still wasn’t that sure what the movie was about.

Black Swan isn’t one of the big budget movies.  It first opened in limited release and then spread out to more theaters.  Many times, the theater around here doesn’t get the movies that open in limited release.  Sometimes they eventually turn up months later, usually if they are nominated for an Oscar or two.  I was a little surprised that Black Swan showed up at the theater here in town not long after it had a wider release.  I ultimately decided that I wanted to see the movie.

Black Swan is definitely different and it isn’t a movie for everyone.  A lot of people will probably be turned off by different things that happen in this movie.  It is dark and twisted, sometimes extremely so.  I do think it is a very well done movie and it is entertaining.  I’m still not sure exactly how much I really liked it though.  Right now I don’t think I want to see it again, but that doesn’t mean I think it is a bad movie.  It is just one of the movies that seeing once will probably be enough for me.

Black Swan is described as a psychological thriller and I definitely see those elements in the movie.  It is interesting to watch Nina slowly crack up and spiral into insanity.  With the way things are presented in the movie, it isn’t always clear what is really happening and what is a hallucination.  Since things aren’t clear cut with this movie, that might bother some viewers.  A few scenes have violence in them, one or two of which are rather gory.  Some shocking things happen and there is a decent amount of suspense to what is going on.

Ballet plays a huge part in Black Swan.  The main characters are all connected to ballet in some way and the movie is focused on a new production of Swan Lake.  I have heard some of the music before and seen little bits in other things, but I am not familiar with the story of that ballet.  I’m not sure how accurate the dancing is in the movie, though some of it does look accurate from what I’ve seen in other movies.  It does sort of downplay ballet related injuries, like how badly a ballet dancer’s feet can be hurt. 

A lot of the talk about Black Swan has been focused on one particular scene involving Nina and Lily, a ballet dancer who has just joined the company.  The scene in question is a lesbian sex scene that involves oral sex.  The scene doesn’t last that long and it really doesn’t show that much, but it is very clear what is going on.  The scene probably makes some people uncomfortable.  In some ways, I see the scene as part of Nina’s character growth, but in other ways, it sort of seems like it is just there to shock and titillate.  Nina is rather repressed and she is pushed by Thomas, the director of the ballet company, to let go.  So it sort so of makes sense that she would be more open to exploring with Lily. 

The acting is amazing in Black Swan, especially by Natalie Portman.  I’ve liked her in other movies, but I’ve never see her in a part like this before.  She is completely believable as the troubled Nina and I do think she deserved to win the Golden Globe.  The movie only has a few characters.  Each one of them has some kind of issue.  The cast all does a wonderful job.

Overall, Black Swan is an interesting, entertaining movie that is probably too dark and twisted for some people. 

I did get a review posted on Epinions.

Black Swan

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