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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My biggest gripe about this movie is the fact the Portman character has all the presence and self-confidence of a puddle. In real life, no production company would allow someone with so little confidence to assume the top role. Millions of dollars are at stake and investors would need to be confident that the lead could handle the more difficult" Black Swan" role, upfront. No one would allow weeks of crying and hallucinations, right up till opening night (and even late for that) to prove that they can actually do the job. Also, the big flub in the first act would have likely caused the second to take her place. Obviously, someone with the low self-esteem (demonstrated by the Portman character) could never hope to gain even a minor role with a ballet company, and certainly not the lead. The competition is just too stiff. Also, Portman does not have the correct body type and is a little short at only 5'3". The boiled chicken and fresh-plucked look was also a big turn-off. In real life, someone so mechanical and fearful would never make it to the top ranks. A second-string "Rockette" has more stones than the Portman character.
I was very lucky to snag tickets to see Black Swan at the the Toronto
International Film Festival.
THE GOOD: Natalie Portman's acting was perfection - definitely an Oscar worthy performance. Mila Kunis's performance was surprising in a good way, it is clear that she stepped out of her comfort zone. The film's musical score was superb. Of course, much of it was taken from 'Swan Lake', but I loved that they were able to incorporate that music throughout the entire film and not just in the ballet scenes. Of course, it was beautifully shot and the plot was riveting - I was drawn in from beginning to end. The audience saw a new side of ballet/ theatre that is not often shown in popular films - the struggle the performer faces in committing to and perfecting a role. The struggle between 'good' vs. 'evil' was presented in a methodical and intriguing way.
THE BAD: Many parts of this film felt like it belonged in the horror Genre. Some parts definitely made me jump or cringe (which I was not expecting). The film was also an emotional roller-coaster, which was fine at first, but This 'emotional roller-coaster' sort of dragged on to the point that it almost felt like it was too much. I just feel that it could have been tuned down a notch.
Overall, I thought that most of the film was wonderful, and I highly recommend it.
Natalie Portman lives a dream and a nightmare when she gets a chance to
dance Swan Lake in Darren Aronofsky's new film
Black Swan is a very bi polarized film. Portman dances as the white swan flawlessly, but her 'brilliant' choreographer has doubts about her as the black swan. She needs to 'live a little' and be less mannered, but the closer she gets to that point, the more the walls start to close in all around her.
Darren Aronofsky, though he comes close to being heavy handed, has delivered a project which is fiery, spectacular and clever. He sells us ballet as something dark and off putting, starting from his decision to reveal what dancing does to peoples bodies. One mistake and you can crack a toe nail under your body weight, but I don't wanna oversell it. To look at Black Swan in another way, it is an operatic horror film, It has incredible style, but uses it not so much to dazzle but to confuse and intimidate. The paradox of Black swan is that it creepiness is kind of seductive, because it draws you in (much like the way vampires are supposedly romantic)
But style is only half the picture (not even). The rest is in the cast, and mostly in Natalie Portman. She is slow to get started, but she grows quickly and the result is arguably her best performance yet. I've never loved her that much. She's always struck me as more of a girl than a woman, but I guess all she needs is to get a little blood on her hands, and you have an award worthy performance. Vincent Cassel, though he gets some questionable lines, is also at his best. I would have almost liked to see more of him, because you get the sense that his role has a bit more room to grow.
Black Swan does quite a bit, but it's not for everyone. Do not go into this expecting to be emotionally enriched. From the beginning, it is staged to be a mind-twirl, delighting in playing tricks on the audience. Some might call it cheating, but that would be the wrong way to look at Black Swan. It's quite epic, and with year coming to an end, I think it's fair to say that it is among the best of 2010.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By Linda Winsh-Bolard I don't know why I do this to myself. It is not
as if my expectations were high, or hardly any. I was not paid to see
it. But I did. It was a dismal experience.
A young, ambitious, starved in all meanings of the word dancer gets chosen for the part of Odette/Odille, here called the Queen Swan and the demands of the performance further the unraveling of her psyche.
Natalie Portman is Nina, the insecure dancer with controlling mother (Barbara Hershey) and desire for limelight. Mila Kunis is Lily, the equally starved, fun, drug, sex and alcohol loving newcomer. Nina feels threatened by the incomprehensible Lily having just witnessed how brutally the artistic director (Vincent Cassel)dealt with the former company's star, Beth.
Nina begins to have odd experience and visions, everything seems suspicious to her. She is getting paranoid. All that while she trains to dance the double part that is, in this film, presented as virginal innocence versus evil seducer.
From the beginning the premise is off kilter. Ballet companies contract number of prima ballerinas and premier danseurs. These are the dancers who will perform the title roles. They do not audition for each part; nor would anyone dare to call a prima ballerina "girl".
Each significant role in any ballet has at least three dancers performing it. This is necessary because there could be more than one performance a day which would pose a real strain on dancer's body. Hence there is never just one "name" posted or adulated. Premier dances in USA usually perform and train together- think of Gelsey Kirkland and Misha Baryshnikov. And the Odette/Odille part is traditionally danced by two different dancers. In one staging, the Black swan was danced by black prima ballerina while the White Swan by a white one.
I have never even heard of am artistic director who would pick a dancer form the corps de ballet and elevated her to primadona. I assume such action would cost dearly in law suits.
As per the constant sexual innuendo, the film is about 30 year late for that.
Ditto for those starved, little girl bodies that Balanchine so adored and abused. That has been over for a bit now as well as most of the sexual harassment. Not all, but most.
Nina would not be the first woman who, while perpetually undernourished, under extreme stress of unnatural expectations (no dancer is as good as the computer image), exposed to alcohol, drugs and power manipulation would crack.
But to present this as succumbing to the role is ridiculous.
Dancers train to dance. The ballet mistress/mister is rarely concerned with the story beyond its barest gist. Their effort is for exact movement, timing, high jumps and effortless look. Anyone in dance company will hear the word "heels" (as to land on your heels and jump from your knees) far more often than "seduction".
The presented milieu is a throw into the past, those stories read and heard on the fringes.
Only when I realized that the entire production was run by men, it began to make sense.
This is one of those stories where males present feeble female mind. Females are only capable of submission to male will, they desire to do so and sexually starved virgins go mad. Females cannot live without males; it is unnatural. Ambitions is unseemly in a female whose psyche is best suited to nurturing of a child and making home for her man. Nina goes mad because she is a warped female, as is the former star ballet, Beth (Winona RyderWinona Ryder).
As a statement of Christian teaching cliché, the film does a good job. As a presentation of male ego and the nearly absolute lack of understanding of women by those men of certain age and education, it does an excellent job.
As dancer and dancer's world picture is worthless.
As a portrait of a prima ballerina it is a bad joke.
As for dancing, there is very little of it. The memorable moment comes as Odette, i remarkable costume and mask, finishes her solo; Nina's arms grow black make-up and change into beautiful black wings. It is a very compelling image possible only in film.
So, I went to take a class. Adult ballet dancer have to this every day. I did not dream about becoming Odette. I always hated those 16 turns on each leg- the film does not show them either.
Fox Searchlight, directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Mark Heyman, Andrew Heinz and John McLaughlinJohn McLaughlin.
I will not give away any spoilers so as not to possibly ruin the
experience for anyone, but I can say that this movie left me shaking
when it was over. What did I just see? I know I was caught up and went
for the entire ride from the opening scene till the very end. The
reaction of the audience was evident as the end credits came. NO ONE
left their seats. They sat and applauded loudly the names as they
scrolled up, then upon the very last credit on the screen, they
applauded loudly again.
It's a brilliant piece of film making and story telling and acting. "Black Swan", as well as "The King's Speech", will DOMINATE at the 2011 Oscars and Golden Globes and whatever other films awards show there is... AND deservedly so.
I am anxious to see the film again right away with friends, but will actually wait to continue to savor the feeling the initial viewing of the film still illicit in me. It was a thrilling time and I am looking forward to seeing just how successful this film will become and what my friends and family will say.
Darren Aronofsky proves once again that he is an absolute genius in the
modern world of cinema and he can work in any genre and make it look
beautiful, real, visceral, and always keeping with his specific visual
style, proving himself to be an absolute auteur. Black Swan is
Aronofsky's fifth feature film, and it shows how his directing ability
is somehow getting better. The movie is about a ballet dancer, Nina
(Natalie Portman), who is dealing with the pressures of playing The
Swan Queen in her companies production of Swan Lake. The pressures
brought about by this demanding role cause her to begin to slowly crack
under pressure, especially when she has to worry about a rival dancer
possibly taking her spot. My synopsis doesn't do the film any justice
though, and the result of this story is a disturbing and breath taking
thriller that combines beauty with visceral intensity, and keeps you on
the edge of your seat and your eyes glued to the screen.
Aronofsky's directing style is incredibly sophisticated and mature in this film. It is grand and beautiful. The ballet scenes are all very delicate and soft, yet there's always an underlying tension. This tension eventually breaks through as the film at times switches to a much darker and more disturbing mood. We are lulled into a false sense of security in many aspects of the film, as it builds and builds to the shocking and chilling climax. The movie flows so beautifully and it delicately weaves in and out of its multitude of moods that keeps us watching and waiting, as the film only grows darker and darker. As the moods of the film change, the style does as well in a very minuscule range, but it is always fitting wherever the film moves. Black Swan is sensual, seductive, lustful, and intense, and Aronofsky's direction captures it all perfectly.
With a style as complex and masterful as Aronofsky's, it is hard for any aspect of the film to look bad, but this wasn't a problem because I felt that every aspect of this film was nearly flawless. One such aspect was the brilliant acting from the small yet very important cast that really helped a movie that needed no help at all. Natalie Portman as Nina was incredible. Her transformation through the movie is disturbing and very intense, and Portman handles it incredibly well. She plays a very flawed character, making the role even tougher. Nina is not the greatest ballet dancer in the world by any stretch of the imagination. She has all the technique and is in fact a master at it, yet it is her emotion that she has the problem with. Portman almost had to act her character poorly to capture the multiple layers correctly. The unfitting facial expressions and awkward movements are part of the character of Nina, and Portman somehow makes it all work to a great advantage that makes the film even more fascinating.
The rest of the cast is incredible as well. Mila Kunis takes on a much more serious and more complex role than she is used to. Her character has very many layers, and doesn't fit into one specific archetype, mainly for reasons that would spoil the movie. Vincent Cassel is the sleazy and inappropriate director of this ballet production. He is the driving force behind much of the tragedy of the film, and he is a character you love to hate. Then perhaps one of the most disturbing characters is Barbara Hershey as Erica, Nina's mother. Erica lives vicariously through her daughter and is constantly pushing her to better while also sheltering her from the world and everything that is out there past ballet. She is the reason for Nina's rigid structure in her life that is a constant pressure to do better. The introduction of Erica's true motivation is one of the most stunning and tragic elements of the movie. We are shown only a facade of the mother at the beginning of the film, being tricked into believing that Nina and her mother live a happy and beautiful life together as a loving mother and daughter. But further down the road as the film grows darker we realize just how skewed and disturbed their relationship is. It is a great bit of character development that has a very important role in the films overall progression.
If I could use one word to describe Black Swan it would be seductive. The movie is ripe with sexual tension, and it drags you in whether you want to be or not. It grabs ahold of your attention, as well as your emotions. The film is so beautiful, yet so tense and so powerful. It fascinates and hypnotizes, and you want nothing more than to know what is going to happen to these people in this disturbed story. It is a film that wraps itself around your brain, rendering you speechless for its entire length. There is just something so unique and so incredible about this film that it almost felt awkward stepping back into reality when it was all over. Black Swan is a masterpiece, and definitely one of the best of 2010.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Perfection is a state of completeness and flawlessness. How many of you
have known a perfectionist or you yourself feel the need to be perfect
at all times? To the point where it almost drives you or the person
insane? But to be honest, I think we've all had those moments of
wanting to be perfect. Praised as one of the best films of the year,
Darren Aronofsky takes us into the psyche of another character, I would
say that this is my favorite film by him. At a young age he has come so
far in creating some of cinema's most fascinating characters and
stories, he's given us such amazing films. His vision brings out one of
the year's best films and one of my new favorites, he and Natalie
Portman were meant to work together. I absolutely adore Natalie
Portman, but I have been waiting for her to have a role as challenging
as Black Swan, her intelligence, grace, beauty and talent shine and I
hope she is not only nominated but wins the Oscar for this film. The
supporting cast is incredible as well, Mila Kunis, I am just falling in
love with her. Proving more and more that she's not just a pretty face
but can take on a role that can be dangerous and makes it her own and
makes it relatable to the audience. Vincent Cassel is becoming one of
my favorite actors, he's so strong and passionate and clearly gave so
much into this role as the seductive dance teacher who in a sense is
his dancer's prince from Swan Lake.
A New York City ballet company is preparing for the production of Swan Lake, which tells the story of an innocent, fragile White Swan who falls in love with a Prince. The ballet company has chosen to cast a newcomer to the dual role of both the White and Black Swan, casting out their top ballerina Beth MacIntyre. Dancer Nina Sayers, extremely dedicated to achieving technical perfection, competes for the part alongside several other young dancers, including Lily. Nina lives with her overbearing and controlling mother, Erica, who was herself a former dancer and is determined to keep Nina's career from getting derailed, as hers did when she got pregnant with Nina. The director, Thomas, is casts Nina. But he claims that she is the perfect White Swan, fragile and innocent, but he simply doesn't believe she has the ability to transform herself into the darkly sensual Black Swan. Nina begins suffering bizarre, and often grisly, hallucinations often involving injuries to herself. However, as soon as the injury appears it will disappear, leaving Nina disoriented and frightened. Nina also begins to feel Lily, a fellow dancer who was cast in a minor role in the production, is determined to take the role from her. Lily is wild, sensual and unruly - ideal casting for the Black Swan. Leroy is becoming increasingly frustrated with Nina, desiring passion and guile from her, and receiving only control and innocence. Tensions are also heating with Nina's mother, who believes the role is too much for Nina. What Nina doesn't realize is that the only thing that is holding her back form being perfect is herself and her lack of making one mistake.
Though I found the film predictable at times, I loved the study of Nina's character. Is she crazy and how she became that way is just so tragic. The way her mother behaves around her, almost an incestuous relationship is just horrific, not giving her daughter a chance to grow up and become a woman. Nina is trying so hard to be perfect that she forgets that it's OK to let loose and make a mistake. Her dance is so beyond beautiful, Natalie is one heck of a dancer and you can only imagine some of the pain she endured for this movie. Her dancing tells a story as well, her body language, you can tell she thinks too hard about things. Lily is exactly what Nina always wanted to be but couldn't because of her mother. Lily and Nina's love scene is so beyond intense, you just find yourself loosing your mind with Nina.
Black Swan is not only one of the best movies of the year, but one of my favorite films. I can't stop thinking about it and cannot wait until I get the DVD so I can watch it more and study it. It's a darker version of the play Swan Lake and is just so hauntingly beautiful. I'm sure there are flaws, I can think of a couple, however, the film did satisfy me greatly and I can't wait to see it again. Darren has once again given the world another film that is just incredible and will be discussed for years.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to see this movie. All the critics were shouting about this one. One to see. Don't miss this movie. The movie of them year! Ouch! Was I taken in! It's a movie about some whacked out chick who literally tries to become the black swan in "Swan Lake". She is hallucinating most of the time. Can't get reality and the ballet right in her head. Oh my, oh my. The ending left me shaking my head. All this fuss about this silly little flick. I don't get it! Others will say that I am not "refined" enough to understand. But that is not true. The sad thing about it is that I do get it. I just don't understand all the fuss. It's just not a good movie. Jim Carrey and the SNL crew made a better short comedy about this. At least you could tell where they were coming from. lol This movie isn't good enough for adults and you can't take little girls to see it because it's full of X-rated material. Therefore what audience is it meant for? I'm sure it'll get lots of awards. The stupid artsy fartsy stuff like this, always does.
I can honestly say that this is one of the worst films that I have ever seen. Nothing really happens so you are left hoping that it will get better and sadly it never does. I feel cheated that I wasted time watching this and I am shocked that it has such a high rating on IMDb. Utter pants! The idea was good but the film just doesn't deliver. The first 40 or so minutes are filled with boring, mundane nonsense about the main actress being cast in the lead role in swan lake, as a viewer you hope that after this rubbish the film will start to get interesting but sadly all it does is amble along and leave you hoping that the end is in sight. How on earth this ever got nominated for an award is beyond me. Do yourself a favour and do something more interesting with your time - watching paint dry is one idea!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've just watched the film last night, since after some reviews about how good it is and seeing the trailer (but tell me a film that's not good based only on the trailer), and I was beyond disappointed. I'm s woman, so the masturbating scenes of a skeletal girl and lesbian sex are as appealing to me as the sex scenes from Brokeback mountain were to my male friends. Not to mention it's totally self-service or I'd say male fan- service, nothing more. The situation with the mother and the self-scratching (mutulating)seems like a copy of the film La pianiste, the supposed to be horror scares are old clichés can be seen in a lot of movies, and some dialogues give the déja-vu feeling and for a reason. Altogether, I think it's totally overrated, predictable, full of clichés. You might enjoy it, if you've never seen a thriller/horror film before. If that's going to the Golden Globe (and Oscar) I seriously worry about the level of the whole award.
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