As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!
There is a lot to really like about Black Swan, not the least of which is that it is a film that openly delves into the psyche of its protagonist from the start, as it is about with a dancer dealing with the stress and pressure of dancing a dual-lead in Swan Lake, and it toys with reality with demented glee. Some things left me wanting but let me focus on the positives first.
There is, of course, the performance of the cast. Starting with Natalie Portman she is what people likely will first think of when they think of this film. It is true of any film but more true of others, that the equation of this film truly changes with anyone else in the lead. The scene-stealer in this film though is Barbara Hershey. I say this not only because it is so great to see her in a prominent role again, but also because she slowly and surely builds from a caring, over-bearing mother to a frightening entity in this film and she delivers most of the wallop.
Mila Kunis, best known either from That 70s Show or as Meg on Family Guy take your pick, does very well in this film, however, I feel her character is not quite the mental parasite that even Hershey’s is. For Hershey’s character made Nina’s (Portman) mind a fertile ground for paranoia.
This film is edited with great panache and stitched together with a robust score, it truly sets a tone and creates a self-regulating tempo. The story certainly accelerates at a palatable pace, it’s just that on occasion some of the jumps could be larger but that is truly not a big grudge.
What does create my only true issue with the film occurs in the third act, which is unfortunate because it sails through the most difficult portion of the film to navigate rather easily. In the third act a fractured chronology is created and reality is truly blurred to the extent that its difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t when you are watching it. Upon a re-viewing it would likely become clear and what the true chronology is will likely reveal itself. What I take issue with is the decision itself of how to end it and I will skirt it as best as possible but…spoiler alert.
What made this a truly a riveting watch for two-thirds of it was watching these characters, particularly Nina, in their own universe. Granted most, if not all of this tale is from Nina’s perspective but as a story I was watching something original that decides to turn itself in the into something derivative or at the very least something of a re-invention. Granted the bones were there but it seems like in many cases a reflexive allusion to another tale within your own is more effective, such as Pinocchio in A.I. or even Swan Lake itself in Billy Elliot
It’s jarring because around many of the corners in the tale you didn’t quite know what to expect then you’re hit with an ending and you’re like “Oh, that’s it?” It seems as if things are lining up for something much more earth-shattering than what is delivered and it’s just a bit of a let down, not that it taints the whole movie. This is a twist unlike that in Shutter Island. This is still a fine film that could’ve been even better than it is.
Without question Black Swan is a film that will benefit from a second viewing and it is the kind of film that will get people talking, however, I feel a miscalculation in the handling of the story cost it.