Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Swan—Movie Review

I wasn't going to go see this movie because I heard it was a little naughty (which it is) but it was getting so many award nods that I couldn't resist the pull of feathers, tulle, and promising performances. I wasn't disappointed.

The lovely Leslie Davila and I went last night. We dressed up for each other, each got red slushies, and went to the ballerina movie—a consummate girl's night out.

The movie begins much like any ballet movie; Nina (Natalie Portman) wakes up in a pretty pink nightgown, surrounded herself with her stuffed animal collection, and is sing-songed awake by her overly affectionate though somewhat unbalanced mother. Nina buzzes with anticipation knowing that auditions for Swan Lake are coming soon pending the retirement of the prima ballerina, Beth (played well by Winona Ryder). Here's my first spoiler—Beth retires and Nina gets the part (shocking, I know).

That her technique is impeccable and she embodies the virginal, delicate white swan, the director knows; his concern is that Nina won't be able to play the sensual, powerful black swan too.

If you don't know the story of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, it's about a princess, Odette who gets turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. One day, Prince Siegfried goes hunting at dusk, sees and takes aim at a lovely white swan for his collection when the swan transforms into a beautiful woman. He learns that until she receives a promise of love from a virgin prince she will ever remain a swan by day and woman by night. The prince falls in love with Odette but by a trick of the evil sorcerer he is seduced and accidentally proposes to another woman at a party (the black swan in human form). Odette, devastated, kills herself and the prince feeling so regretful follows her so they can be reunited in death.

Nina's professional training to become the black swan becomes a destructive transformation of herself: her mommy issues, pressure for perfection, and, most prevalently, her sexuality.

All in all, the film is visually stunning, the plot edgy, and Portman's performance is perfectly en pointe. One can see that she has shed blood, sweat, and tears to become a dancer for this film (one entire year of training) and her acting gave me goosebumps. I will also submit that this movie has the feel of a classic film—it was the subtle suspense that carefully avoided cheesiness and the perfectly packaged storyline.
Things you should know before you see this film:
1) It's naughty—there's about every variety of sexuality in this film but I strongly feel that it was necessary to tell the story
2) It's graphic—dancers already have enough cracks, snaps, and bloodied feet but this film takes it to the enth degree by adding an element of fantasy and horror, and
3) If you're easily spooked, you might want to rent or skip this movie altogether.

All that said, if you think you'll like this movie at all then definitely see it in the theater. Natalie Portman shimmers, the costumes wow, and I just don't think a television will give the same feeling of there being a stage before you as the big screen will.

1 comment:

Davenport Dame said...

I totally agree with your review! Sexy, suspenseful, intense. Too mad I covered my eyes so many times--I might have seen more!