Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Movie Review: Black Swan

Posted on: February 14, 2011

I’ve got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Is it because the flu’s going around?  No.  Is it the Valentine’s dinner I shared with my wife; something foul with the Chicken Marsala?  No again.

How about the movie we saw after dinner?

Bingo !

Oh, Black Swan; how did I hate thee?  Let me count the ways.

Black Swan is more a psychological thriller than a movie about ballet.  Nina Sayers – played by Natalie Portman – wins the lead role in a darker, edgier version of Swan Lake.  From the start, everyone is against her; the other dancers, the director, even her mother.  Each victimizes poor Nina in cruel and graphic ways, and she quickly earns your sympathy.  At the same time, she questions her own sanity.

Even if you’ve seen the movie trailers, you’re not prepared for the shocking scenes that await you.  You expect to see the toil, the hard work that goes with big-time ballet productions.  This is, in itself, not pretty.  But Black Swan takes not pretty to another level.

Plenty of movies make you jump out of your seat.  It’s all good fun if you can brush it off as you leave the cineplex.  But, you don’t go to a ballet movie expecting to see stabbings, murder, graphic sex; all kinds of mayhem perpetrated on the new star.

And then there’s the dancing itself.  Nicely done, I’d like to say, but I couldn’t see enough of it due to the overused handheld camera technique.  They didn’t even bother to use a steadicam.  Every dance sequence was seen as an extreme close-up and it kinda made me nauseous.

I’ll dig deep to find something good to say.  There was one scene within three minutes of the movie’s end that really awed me.  The white swan is spinning around the stage non-stop.  As she does, she transforms into the black swan during a single, continuous camera shot: feathers, makeup, bloodshot eyes.   Character generation was undoubtedly used, but it was impressive  nonetheless.

I suppose the movie’s producers should be thrilled to have had such a strong – usually positive – impact on its viewers.  But I went to see an Oscar-nominated film, and left with a tummy ache.

Black Swan is a top-10 movie of 2010 for many film critics.  My rating: one Plié (out of four).  Rent it if you must.

P.S.  I didn’t give too much away.  You’re welcome.

1 Response to "Movie Review: Black Swan"

For the reasons you so eloquently described above, you can be sure that I will never see it.

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