Friday, 28 January 2011

African-American Swan (We're Politically Correct Here) - Part Of Natalie Portman Week.

Well here we go. A film that fits in both of my current themes: The Oscars and Natalie Portman. Yes, today we discuss Black Swan. With five Oscar nominations under its belt, is it all it's hyped up to be? Lets have a look.

Nina (Portman) is a ballet dancer. And a dedicated one at that. She just wants to be perfect. However, this gets in the way when director Thomas, (Vincent Cassel) wants her to let go a bit and dance freely. When Nina's company decide to perform Swan Lake, she dreams of dancing as the main part, the Swan Queen. But the pressure of performing begins to get to Nina, especially when relationships with her friend Lily (Mila Kunis) and with her mother (Barbara Hershey) begin to get complicated, and we begin to see a whole new side of our protagonist.

You'd think professional cameras would have red eye reduction.

A chilling tale showing the darkest side of ballet brought to life by a stunning performance by Natalie Portman. She's both innocent and dark. A hybrid of naivety and danger. Her character contrasts with itself so effectively and is developed beautifully and subtly from start to finish. A shoo in for Oscar if you ask me. Her portrayal of Nina is so impressive, you'll forget that you're watching a movie and become connected to the character. Other performances from the likes of Kunis, Cassel and Hershey are excellent and incredibly strong. Without them, the film would fall flat on it's back. Kunis brings an incredible air of confidence and sexiness with her (especially in one scene) that enlightens the film. She's portrayed so that we, the viewer, are left unsure as to how we feel about her. An effective performance if I ever saw one. Along with Portman, she brings the whole movie up into a better class. An Oscar class.

Oh and the direction. Is brilliant. Somehow, Darren Aronofsky has taken ballet and turned it into a sexy, scary, cold and disturbing piece of work. Black Swan contains all of these attributes and more. What really makes them blend together so well is Aronofsky's use of subtle hints throughout the movie. Everything from funny looking rashes to Nina's mum's paintings are presented in such a simple way but are all part of a huge overarching development. The movie is just as terrifying as much as it is dramatic. I wouldn't class it as a horror, but it crosses over genre boundaries without any difficulty: thriller, horror, drama, you name it it.

Worst Mirror Ever.

With a wonderful score consisting of classical music used in ballet, Black Swan juxtaposes what should be something beautiful with something visually disturbing. And yes, disturbing is the right word. With some slight camera tricks, some special effects and some sneaky editing, Aronofsky takes us into Nina's confused and often twisted mind and leaves nothing out. Her fantasies, her jealousy, her lust... It's all there. Perhaps not in the clearest of ways but hey, Nina doesn't know what is going on, why should we?

Perhaps not for the faint hearted. As previously mentioned, it is mildly terrifying and disturbing but also very squeamish. I don't get squeamish often but this film managed to get me cringing every so often. Stay away if you don't like blood, broken bones or psychological horror. Probably not the best movie for you. Otherwise, go see it. It is stunning, brought down by it's drops in pace. It seems that the movies pace is inconsistent while it is developing which can get frustrating. But once the stress and pressure really hit Nina after a night out with Lily, things get good. I certainly think Natalie Portman has bagged herself an Oscar and perhaps Aronofsky as well.

Best bit? For some of you it may be the intimate scene between two female dancers but for me it has to be when all those subtle hints start coming together... Particularly the paintings.

1 comment:

  1. someone actually made an african-american swan video parody haha: pretty funny