Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Black Swan"

This movie is terrifying.  And fascinating.  It is not about ballet, it's about madness.

A defining characteristic of film as a medium is its ability to engage you viscerally.  That capability is used to great advantage here.  When you're able to see into the mind of another, that can be horrifying if the person whose mind you're entering is crazed.

I've seen all of Darren Aronofsky's films and he's a master at depicting madness.  His "Requiem For A Dream" was a terrifying view of drug-addiction from the eyes of an addict.

Here, we see a young ballet-dancer on the verge of artistic success who is plagued by pressure to be perfect and, seeing through her eyes, we're never sure what is real and what is her delusion.  The power of the film lies in that confusion.

I especially enjoyed the subjects plumbed by the film: the pressure to be perfect; the tendency to control others; and complex personal relationships.  The good-girl/bad-girl duality is everywhere in the film, starting with the White Swan/Black Swan ballet plot and extending to other dichotomies, like prim/sexual behavior.

The performances by Natalie Portman, Vicent Cassel and Barbara Hershey are riveting.  You can't avoid being pulled into their insanity and then rocked every direction with it.  Milos Kunis does a credible job as Portman's rival and Winona Ryder has a cameo-role as the ballerina being cast aside.

This movie is captivating art and I recommend it highly -- but only for those capable of handling extreme depictions.  The film isn't for pansies.  I can imagine people fleeing it in terror if they expected it to be a sweet dance-movie.


  1. Sweet review. I wanted to see this film and now more so.

  2. I agree with everything. I absolutely loved it. And although it's more about inner terror and the strive for perfection, the dancing was magnificent. It was mesmerizing and although Ms. Portman didn't do all of her dancing, what she did was unbelievable. Very impressed!


  3. ooh, can't wait to see it!!!

  4. You made me want to see this even more!

  5. I can't wait to see this movie. It looks - and sounds - incredible. And, honestly, the costumes are going to just be icing on the cake.

  6. Great review! I looooved this movie. Being a former dancer myself, I would actually say it's one of the more honest dance movies I've seen. The conflicts and characters it depicts are very realistic. Natalie Portman did a fantastic job. She has always been one of my favorite actors, but I felt she really committed to this role. She will certainly rock all the award shows this year!

  7. OMG I am going to watch it tomorrow now you have really scared me. I enjoy psychological dramas but hearing about it makes me feel like I have never seen anything like it before.

    BTW I love your header...cute!!

    Look forward to hearing from you


    Tashrin from Toronto, Canada

  8. I just saw it last week. I've heard from MANY of my friends that it's the best ever -- some said it's in their Top 5! Am I the only one who didn't find it amazing?

  9. I've been wanting to see it just based on the trailers... but your description has more than cinched it for me- looks like it will be $9 well-spent!

    If your description were on the box, I would buy the DVD... maybe you should try to sell it to the distributor....