Black Swan

I’ve been dreading Black Swan. Oh, I couldn’t wait to see it—a psycho sexual ballet movie? That’s three of my favorite things all in one film! I’ve been a fan of Natalie Portman since she bonded with the French hitman in The Professional. So when details first started filtering out about the movie, it sounded great. But then I heard the director was Darren Aronofsky, he of The Wrestler fame, with all of its’ jittery camera work and grainy film effects. It made you feel like you were right there getting slammed into the mat with Mickey Rourke. Actually, I felt exactly like that after I saw the movie. That one not only made my stomach churn but my head ache as well. It’s hard to appreciate what is a really good film when it has this effect on you—or maybe it was having to watch Mickey Rourke’s face after remembering what he looked like in Diner.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to see Black Swan. The shaky camerawork had been mentioned in the reviews, which is never a good thing. It means that it must be pretty bad if even people who aren’t made queasy by it are now noticing and commenting. But at least it served as a warning, so I could take as many precautions as possible.

I went on a Sunday afternoon so it wouldn’t be as crowded and sat in the very back row of a fairly long theater. Distance helps a lot­­—the brain is able to take in the film as a whole, instead of the choppy, constant movement you’d get if you were sitting too close. I had ibuprofen in my pocket and deliberately skipped the popcorn, because nausea by itself is bad enough, but nausea with coconut oil roiling around inside you is deadly.

As the film began and Natalie started pirhouetting out of control, I wondered if I was psyching myself out by worrying about the effects so much. There are doctors who scoff at this and say it’s all in the head of the filmgoer; there is no medical reason that you should be puking in the aisle. I would like that doctor to sit next to me during a showing of The Bourne Supremacy.

But to my surprise, I had few problems with Black Swan. There was a long shot when the camera followed her bobbing bun through the winding tunnels of Lincoln Center and things started skewing a little Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-ish, but I kept my eyes closed for most of that. The film was pretty dark with lots of shadows and I think that helped, plus I was reeeeeeally far away.

In fact, my only problem with the film was the ending, but that had nothing to do with the camerawork. Since the White Swan takes a swan dive off of a cliff at the end of the ballet, why not have the character of Nina actually commit suicide in front of the audience instead of all that business about who really got stabby with the piece of mirror? I think that would have been a perfect ending for a “perfect” little girl.

Barf Bag Ranking: A surprising ONE BAG. This could have been so much worse.

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3 Comments

  1. In my Oscar countdown mode I got to TWO movies this weekend; this one and “The Fighter.” It wasn’t the camerawork but the disgusting, punishing, backstabbing, misogynistic ballet world that made me sick. And the wonderfully creepy Barbara Hershey. She wuz robbed for a Best Supporting Actress nod.

    • Scariest moment of the film – when Nina is in her room and really starting to enjoy touching her Black Swan, and she realizes that her mother is asleep in the chair about two feet away!

      I agree that Barbara Hershey should have been nominated – and I think she should have taken Melissa Leo’s spot from The Fighter. Even though she’s getting raves and I believe won the Golden Globe, I thought her performance seemed like a caricature.

  2. I was thinking about you all through this movie, along the lines of “Chris is going to hate this” Glad you enjoyed it after all (if one can use the term “enjoy” with relation to this movie) I thought it was the best movie I’ve ever seen.


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