Movie Review: Black Swan

Movie Review: Black Swan

Summary: A neurotic ballerina (Natalie Portman) desperately wants to be the lead in a production of Swan Lake, which requires her to be both the angelic white swan and the evil black swan.

Published December 2, 2010

Summary : A neurotic ballerina (Natalie Portman ) desperately wants to be the lead in a production of Swan Lake , which requires her to be both the angelic white swan and the evil black swan. Through drugs, paranoia and massive hallucinations, she is driven into an uber-frenzy that will either ruin or glorify her performance.

Review : It's been ages since I've seen a film so preposterously excessive receive such positive reviews. Black Swan is being applauded as one of the best films of the year; if this is a Hollywood home run, then Mommie Dearest shouldn't have damaged Faye Dunaway 's career. Maybe over-the-top is the new sign of Oscar-worthiness.

Black Swan is directed by Darren Aronofsky , the man behind Marlon Wayans ' Requiem for a Dream . Almost like a Kanye West video, Aronofsky is obsessed with the visuals versus the content, often times evoking a drug-induced head trip. Yes, it's done well, but I needed a little more of a coherent storyline than disposable imagery, like stabbings with a nail filer, pill-popping lesbianism and bloody scenes with Portman's skin ripping off.

Almost like Inception for ballerinas, Black Swan goes in and out of dream sequences. These types of "is it a dream or is it real?" script concoctions make the writing feel lazy. If something is in dreamland, then anything is plausible and there is no realism. It's visually frustrating to finally get invested in a scene only to discover that it wasn't real. Therefore, the plot suddenly twists and soon black feathers are bursting out of the ballerina’s skin.

Many are rightfully praising Natalie Portman's performance as Nina, the nearly schizophrenic ballerina who is obsessed with perfection. Her performance does redeem the film, but the constant hallucinations take away from the depth of the character. You often get to know the hallucinations more than Nina. Whatever the case, Portman gave it her all and will surely receive an Oscar nod.

Also, word is Natalie Portman and her ballerina co-star, Mila Kunis, lost 20 pounds to play these frail dancers. I have never seen people so skinny on camera unless they were playing a drug addict. Another thing to note: There wasn't one, solitary person of color in the film. Not even a waiter!  I'm not one to constantly shout for diversity but for a film to take place in New York City I would hope to see a little color -- you would think Black Swan is a Lord of the Rings film!

The drama is at a maximum causing the movie to take itself too seriously, but Aronofsky’s meticulous structure makes the film mostly work. Overall, Black Swan is overly stylized but a well-acted version of Showgirls meets Nightmare on Elm Street .

Black Swan is in theaters tomorrow.

Written by Clay Cane


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