Monday, December 20, 2010

Black Swan 2010

This is an uneasy pretentious overripe mixture of high art (the ballet world) and low camp with large gallops of psychosexual dysfunction and big helpings borrowed from other movies. Think of The Red Shoes meets Repulsion and you’ll get some idea of this sorry mess of a horror movie. The story is about a... young ballerina trying to dance her way to the top and secure the lead role in a new production of Swan Lake. Natalie Portman who is goodin the role plays the young ballerina who has very serious mental problems that can be seen from the last row of the balcony, and its pretty amazing that no one close to her notices this, but then again if they did there wouldn‘t be a movie. It’s hard for me to write about this film without giving away some plot turns and twists so if you want to see this thing, stop reading. Natalie who lives in a realistically cluttered upper Westside apartment in New York City with her very domineering mom who I gather was also a ballerina in her youth, but now does ghastly tortured self portraits that cover the walls of her bedroom. Played by a scary Barbara Hershey who is so botoxed that her head can be used for one of the balloons in next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade is also a bit unhinged herself and is no doubt behind some if not all of the grief that Natalie is going through. Natalie is so repressed sexually and emotionally (her bedroom is that of a 12 year old girl) that she can barely function let alone dance. But dance girl dance she does, and she works very hard at convincing the sleazy clinched dance director played by Vincent Cassel that she can muster the double roles of the good swan and the bad swan. We’re hit over the head with this comparison of good and bad throughout the film which include several not so nice ballerinas who want to steal Natalie’s part away from her. This is best seen and most enjoyable in the lively scene stealing performance by Mila Kunis who does (or is it all in Natalie’s mind) some nasty things to her, including putting drugs in her drinks at a bar and seducing her in what may or may not be a steamy lesbian sex scene. Directed by Darren Aronofsky who uses shaky & heavy handed held camera cinematography throughout to give us the feel of confusion and the escalating out of control mental breakdown of Portman that for me quickly wore off its welcome. The dancing to my untrained eye looked quite good, and Portman to her credit and stamina did most of her own dancing, and the film does have a nice backstage feel to it, but this is really not enough to make this a genuine engrossing movie. I generally don’t care for horror psycho movies that use the fragile mental conditions of its female protagonists to illicit tension, dread and fears in the audience. In fact I might be the only person on the planet who felt sorrier for Kathy Bates than James Caan in Misery. Full of unintentional giggles and laughs from the audience I saw it with, I can see that in the coming years this film will no doubt become a classic. A camp classic that is. One of the ten worst films of 2010.


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