THE BLACK SWAN (2010)
|Not your average Christmas Spectacular.|
So I caved. If we were sticking this movie in a genre, I wouldn't really throw it into the action movie/shoot-em-up/gangster pile. Which is why I feel obligated to knock it down a peg (3 guns rather than 4), since I know it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. However, when you get passed the fact that it's a movie about ballerinas putting on a performance of Swan Lake, this movie ranks high as a psychological thriller. I'd even be tempted to sidle it up next to movies like Memento or Blood Simple. And it has less to do with the actual content of the movie and more with the atmosphere of the movie.
|Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman.|
The content I can wrap up in a couple short sentences without spoiling much. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is an uptight ballerina with a perfection complex, bolstered by her overbearing mother and her obsession for dance. She fights against the seductive competing ballerina Lily (Mila Kunis) for the attention of the skeevy director Thomas (Vincent Cassel) to win the role of the Swan Queen, and gets a little more than she bargained for. Despite the mother, the director, and the catty women, Nina turns out to be her own worst enemy. Tada! Three sentences or less. Now. The atmosphere. Dear God. Every frame of the movie was chilling. Darren Aronofsky (our friend from the biggest budget anti-drug PSA, Requiem For A Dream), I commend you. Every moment was stifling. You felt just as trapped in Nina's head as she did. Violence corroded every image, even the simple ones...a picking scratch here, the clip of nail trimmers, the sound of toes grinding on polished wood floors. Sex and blood was inescapable even for the audience, and we felt the creeping tension growing tauter as Nina worked herself harder, stripped away a little more of her "sweet girl".
|Image from angsawariko.com|
And now for the run down. Natalie Portman I love. She can really do no wrong in my eyes. Well. She did do the Prequels. That was a pretty major wrong. So she can do very little wrong in my eyes. I do love short, spunky women and Portman's got it. In this movie, as always, she shines, and does an excellent job portrayed the constantly tormented girl. Her main tormenter, Lily, is actually quite a lovable character in the hands of Mila Kunis. Even though every time I see her all I can think of is The 70s Show. Nonetheless, she's definitely a much better actress than I give her credit for and her personality really lights up this dark and dreary film. Plus, her and Natalie Portman have sex. I'll repeat it: Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have lesbian sex. I believe that's worth the theater ticket in itself.
Also, if this movie was lacking anything, it was more Vincent Cassel. He was sleezy, jarring, and yet didn't take it quite as far as he could have. Or maybe it was just that Nina was so self-destructive he seemed like a Teddy bear in comparison. Either way, he was just plain fun to watch, and I would've liked to see more of him. Last but not least, a shout out Barbara Hershey who plays a terrifying evil mother, and Winona Ryder who does another one of her surprising little cameo bits. Yes, I know, she shop lifts, boohooo, someone give this woman a real role already.
All in all? I highly recommend this movie. It scared the crap out of me, and I'm not easily scared. The thing is, throw ghosts my way, exorcist chicks, Christine O'Donnell, and I'll still sleep (relatively) soundly. However, sit me down with a good psychological mindfuck, and I'm rocking in the corner with my thumb in my mouth. Blood Simple directed by the Coen Brothers and Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment keep me up at night, not the boogeyman. In short, if you like lesbians, viciousness, and mindfucks, this is certainly a keeper.