Sunday, 30 January 2011

95: Review - Black Swan

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Black Swan
26 Jan 2011. Location: Cinema

Plot Synopsis: Ballet makes you mental

I'm not saying the first hour of this film is hard work, but I had to pay National Insurance contributions on the way out. Actually, that may just be me. I knew I was going to have a hard time adapting when I saw Nina (Natalie Portman) devoting her life, soul, and indeed sanity, to an artform which I DON'T UNDERSTAND. I have absolutely NO frame of reference for ballet, other than the knowledge that most ballerinas end up wrecking their own bodies for their art.

ANYHOW, Nina wants to be the lead in her company's production of Swan Lake, which involves her playing the white and black swans. I gather this isn't the usual way of doing it. She has a pushy mother, a pushy ballet-director, and bitchy contemporaries; at least one of whom (Lily / Mila Kunis) is trying to steal the part from her. Add to this a bitter, soon to be broken ex-lead (Winona Ryder), past her prime and spitting venom at everyone, and you have the basic setup. That shouldn't really take an hour to establish. It does, though. Also revealed is Nina's past of mild self-harming and possible mental illness. But by the time this comes to the fore, you've kind of worked out that she's got a tenous grip on reality.

I'll take this moment to say that the shaky-cam pissed me off greatly. Throughout the film, Nina keeps seeing herself in crowds (and eventually right in front of her). This would have been accomplished a LOT better if the camera had been steady enough for the audience to see what Nina sees. Half the time you're left gauging Nina's reaction when someone with dark hair has been spotted 20 feet away. It 'could' be a device within the movie, but the other half of the time (interspersed), you can actually see Nina's apparent hallcunations. It may work better on DVD, I don't know.

SO. After about the hour-mark, we get the full descent into Nina's madness. I REALLY enjoyed it from hereon-in. It becomes a proper psychological thriller (and borderline horror) for the second half, and all bets are off as to how it'll end. Any more details would spoil it, so I'll just say how great it is. And at this point, the shaky-cam's fine.

Geek-points: 1) At one point, when Lily called Nina 'your highness', I got a little Queen Amidala flashback. 2) When Nina takes the part of the Black Swan, she gets awesome Sith-eyes, to match the ones Vader had at almost exactly the same point in Revenge of the Sith. I was probably the only person in the (packed) cinema who thought this, but hey.

92. That's the magic number.

I should point out, the 92 minute mark is approximate, but it's definitely between 91 and 93, okay? PAL and NTSC versions will vary ;)

So, overall, great film. If I had any interest at all in ballet, I'd probably have enjoyed the first hour more.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. I went along to see this to keep my dance fan of a wife happy. Straight away I was pulled into the story.

    I screamed at the toenail thing - argh! Thought the story, plot, acting, photography and overall entertainment was excellent. I was happy to see Winona, in there - that should stop her from more (alleged) shoplifting.

    I've been talking about this film for two weeks now - something I never do. Oh, and the lezbo bits were a nice treat - I'm not a pervert, just a lezbo. Made a change to have a nice erotic scene between two woman and not have a guy there too.

    This was a chick-flick with balls.