My Ten Cents On: Black Swan

"I want to talk about a horrible practice afflicting millions of Americans, for years we've known how dangerous it is. It stunts your growth and its marketed to children! I'm talking about ballet!"

Honestly, All I ever knew about the deep, dark, and dangerous world of ballet was from The Simpsons, which, if you have seen this movie, is not really far off. So, I generally had a very shallow idea of what I was getting into with this film. I think it may have been that laissez-faire attitude that caused the lag of this review. I watched Black Swan around 4 days ago, and it took me all this time before I could really sit down and start typing about it. It was a pretty heavy movie to swallow. Since I’m here, and I’m writing about this, I’m going to try and cut up a few slices of the movie for you, so that you’ll have an easier time digesting it.

The movie follows the story of professional ballet dancer Nina Sayers (played by Natalie Portman), who for the longest time has dreamed of becoming the star of a production. So when the original star of the ballet,  Beth Macintyre, retires before they begin producing Swan Lake, there is a huge audition for who would take on the next starring role as the Swan Queen (who has to play two characters in the ballet, the White Swan and the Black Swan). Because of her perfect performance as the naive, sweet and innocent White Swan, Nina is given the lead role, but is told that she has to learn to become the sultry, seductive, and wild Black Swan as well if she wants to keep the part. The movie follows her as she struggles with transforming into the Black Swan, not only in her dance, but throughout every aspect of her life as well.

And so with the subtlety and grace of Christ Farley (R.I.P. you pudgy comic genius you) doing a pirouette, I shall now dive into the Black Swan.

+ Natalie Portman

There isn’t much I can say about her except that she is amazing. Her character required such a huge emotional transition, that I don’t think there are many beautiful actresses out there who could have handled such a range, and she pulled it off almost flawlessly. This entire movie is solely dependent on Nina’s emotional transformation throughout the film, and so a great chunk of how good this movie is would depend on both the acting and the atmosphere. And as far as the acting goes, she delivered. This was a role where she slid from one side of the spectrum, being a mommy’s girl who still slept with stuffed toys, to a wild girl who… I’ll get into that wild girl thing later on in this review anyway, so I’ll leave it at that.

Natalie's acting exercise: "freaky eyes, scared eyes, freaky eyes, scared eyes"


She played so many sides of this girl, and not to mention, she became a pretty good ballet dancer as well. The level of commitment that she put into the character and the final product put on film got her a Golden Globe, and in my honest opinion could get her an Oscar as well, so yeah. ‘Nuff said.

+ Atmosphere

The director, Darren Aronofsky, is a master of creating atmosphere. If The Wrestler and The Fountain are anything to go by, this man just knows how to shoot emotions. He knows how to visually show emotions on a screen. The cinematography, set design, special effects and acting all pull together to reveal the psychological state of the main character. When Nina was supposed to be confused, I was confused. When she was supposed to be scared, I was scared. When she was hor… well you get the picture. This was one movie that really lacked a sense of dramatic irony, and that’s what made it special. Dramatic irony, simply put, is when certain lines and actions in a work of literature have a different meaning for the audience and the characters. The best example I can think of is… when you know who the bad guy of a movie is, and yet the main character still doesn’t have a clue.

Basically, in most movies, you know more than the character, so you always shout stuff like: “Don’t trust him!” or the stereotypical “Run B*tch Run!” in your head when you watch a movie. This one was different in that, you were experiencing the story along with Nina, and at no point did you really know more about it than she did. And this allowed you to feel every single thing that she was feeling, and its simply marvelous to behold.

+ The Girl, Interrupted

"Yo Natalie, I'm really happy for you, I'm going to let you finish but Carrie Fisher was one of the best Star Wars monarchs of all time...of all time!"

Winona Ryder may only have had a short role in this film as Beth Macintyre, but I have to say it was memorable. Winona was one of the queens of the 90’s film scene, practically defining it with roles in Reality Bites and Girl, Interrupted, until she mysteriously vanished after Mr. Deeds. This was probably due to the fact that she couldn’t carry on being a rebellious teens well into her 30’s. However, with this movie, I am beginning to hope for a revival in her career fitting into a new niche of the older starlet at the twilight of her career, or passing the pretty torch down to the next generation of rebels. I really think she may have found her new role, and I hope to see her more often.

+ Lesbian Scene


Okay, now that the good stuff is out of the way, I’d like to give you some fair warning.

– Power of imagery

I personally have no problem with all the visuals and editing techniques they used for this film. I would just like to point out that a casual moviegoer isn’t going to absorb all of the visuals very well. You have to be mentally prepared to watch this movie, seriously. There’s a whole lot of creepy stuff that will go on throughout the movie, and it will jump right out at you, and there will be a lot of confusing scenes. Its meant to be like that, but again, if you’re not even slightly prepared for it, it may be tough for you to enjoy it otherwise. Did I forget to mention that some of it is really creepy?

Yeah, that’s about the only problem I can think of. Its really deep and not meant for casual viewing. I’ve wracked my brain, and any other thing I would have placed as a negative would have simply been me nitpicking the hell out of this movie.

My Cents Worth: 9/10

4 for the acting, 4 for the way it was shot, and 1 for the *ehem* other stuff.

This movie is a MUST WATCH. I haven’t seen every Golden Globe nominee, but Black Swan certainly deserved to beat out Social Network for that Golden Globe. I don’t think anyone is going to tell you that this movie sucks, and I’m not breaking that trend. It may not be a movie I’ll be able to watch over, and over again, but it is a modern-day cinematic masterpiece. And I highly, highly encourage you watch it! (not in the theater though because the MTRCB will cut the hell out of this movie for its theatrical release, except in Robinsons Galleria, because I don’t think it’s registered as a family theater) So, yeah! get a copy somewhere else, and watch it! I recommend it!

Posted on January 26, 2011, in Film Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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