I’ve said before that I never go to the movies. I’m more the kind to wait for it to come out on DVD, then get it from the library eight weeks later when my hold is up. It’s frustrating, sure. But I’m cheap, and some things can’t be helped.
I make rare exceptions, such as Harry Potter, or the rare Disney flicks that my niece and I go to. I’m still wanting to go see Tangled in theaters, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.
However, when a co-worker showed me the trailer for Black Swan, my first thought was, “When is this coming out, and who is going to come with me to see it?”
As it turns out, it came out here a week after the release, and none of these bitches wanted to come with. What the hell? Luckily for me, my friend Rachael is pretty much a pushover. It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable seeing a movie alone, I just dislike not having someone to discuss it with immediately afterwards.My first thought upon leaving the theater was, “There is absolutely no way I can write a blog entry about this.” Let’s see if I can prove myself wrong.
I have a serious appreciation for any movie or television show that is a complete mindfuck. I’ve seen Lost Highway countless times, and I still can’t tell you exactly what happens.
This movie takes the mindfuck genre (please tell me this exists) and takes it to levels not even David Lynch could have imagined.
First and foremost, we have to talk about the imagery in this movie. Even without the extreme elements of the plot, and the beautiful ballet moves, this movie is so visual, you can watch it entirely on mute and still get the feel of it. Each scene, each emotion, each breakdown, it has its own movie aura. We start out soft and pink, then as the downward spiral begins, everything starts growing darker, and darker. By the final hallucination in the apartment, it’s so dark we only get flashcuts of light.
Contrast each of those scenes with the ballet rehearsels, and the extreme practices. Everything very stark and rigid, very clinical. The jumps between the feels of the movie add to the overall jarring effect. I am hesitant to mention how many times in this movie I jumped out of the seat, before the extremeness happened. The score and the jump in the mood has the audience on the edge of their seat before we ever get blood and creepiness. The director of this movie deserves as many Oscar noms as the actresses.
I’m only going to quickly touch on the part where there are far too many mirrors in this movie. I understand why they did it, the mirror image metaphor was too obvious to be ignored, and almost too clichéd, but as someone who has an extremely convoluted mirror fear, brought on by a different movie all together, this was NOT a happy experience. Adds a very different level of hell for me in the anxiety department.
Let’s discuss the absolutely amazing actresses playing the two lead characters. Because if both of these women do not earn every award offered in the industry for these roles, I will call a fixed vote.
Natalie Portman shocked the hell out of me in this movie. I am not a fan of hers. I have honestly never seen a movie that she had a significant role in that did not bore me to tears. I have always found her entirely too stoic, uptight. She strikes me as the type of person who, in real life, considers herself far too intellectual for those around her.
For all those reasons, she was absolutely born to play this role. Nina is so repressed and uptight, you feel uncomfortable watching her on screen. Even when she cuts loose at the bar, you’re waiting for the inevitable fall, and it is glorious. Her descent into utter batshit insanity is so complete and so jarring and every minute you’re just living it with her. Natalie Portman impressed me beyond words. I don’t think any actress has ever turned my opinion around about them as rapidly as she did with this role. I have a newfound respect and admiration for her considerable talents. I don’t care if she’s an uptight frigid bitch in real life, she’s incredible in my book.
It also helps that RyAn linked me to the SNL short she did. My original opinion of her is completely blown.
I have never had a real opinion on Mila Kunis. I’ve watched a handful of episodes of That 70’s Show, solely because a Whedonverse alum was in it. I found her delightful but irritating as Jackie, and with Seth Green/Alyson Hannigan/Eliza Dushku to draw my attention away, I really wasn’t paying much attention. I also don’t watch Family Guy. Those are the only projects of hers I’m knowledgeable about.
However, she’s a friend of Seth Green’s, and she’s been dating Macaulay Culkin for almost a decade. So she’s got to be good stock, right?
She is my favorite part of this movie, hands down. From the moment she appeared on screen, I wanted to see more of her. She is the absolute opposite of Nina, and she plays the role with so much energy, and life. She took this character and brought her to life.
Considering that the majority of her that we see on screen is some form of hallucination, it’s hard to know anything real about Lily. But she oozes sex appeal. I found her ridiculously sexy, from the jump. Even her dancing was sexy, and so free spirited. When she was on screen, I was watching her and only her.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Winona Ryder. I’m a huge fan of her acting. She picks the most interesting roles (exception: Mr Deeds), and really brings herself to the roles. I’ve loved her since Mermaids. In this film, she gets less than 10 minutes total screentime, only half of that a speaking role, but she leaves an enormous impression.
The hospital scene had me with my hands over my mouth, silently shrieking. I was pretty sure it was a hallucination, but again, was it? Did she really just stab herself? In the face? Then when she appeared again in the apartment and scared the daylights out of me, I was beside myself, jumping out of my skin. Incredible.
The dancing in this movie is intensely beautiful. When I first saw the trailer for this, what I was expecting was close-ups of dancing en pointe, then images of the faces, then far away shots of a dancer doing all the moves. I was unprepared for the fact that these girls are really dancing. Ballet is beautiful and amazing, but it’s hard as hell.
I know as much about ballet as I do any other dancing (read: nothing), but I could tell that Nina was repressed and holding back. I consider that a sign of good acting. Then when Lily comes in, it’s even more obvious. She holds back, and is stiff and uncomfortable as the Black Swan. You know she’s going to pull it off in the end, but waiting for it makes your skin itch.
The sexuality in the film is as intense as the dancing. It’s set up for you in the trailer, but still hits you with an intensity you couldn’t expect. The theater roared with laughter when she turned in the bed and spotted her mother asleep next to her after her first bought with masturbating, but I think that was the last time there was laughter. I can’t recall ever hearing such a silent movie theater. People were enthralled.
The sex scene between Lily and Nina was absolutely incredible. Fast paced and titilating, and then her face changes and it absolutely bitchslaps you. When Lily tells her that it never happened, I was absolutely dumbfounded. Originally, I wondered if Lily was playing with her head and lying about what had happened. As the madness progressed, I grew more and more confused about what was real and what wasn’t. Obviously this was the point of the movie.
The ending was wonderful and beautiful and insane in all the right ways. From the attack on Lily to the final fall, it was perfection from top to bottom. Even in that last moment, I truly thought she had killed her. And when it was revealed she was still alive, I thought there was still someone in the bathroom. When we saw the bloody stab wound in her stomach, I thought that was a hallucination. I had a miserable time telling reality from hallucination. That is what made this movie so incredible. You don’t just watch the madness, you feel it. You feel the unreality of it all.
The dancing was gorgeous. When she transformed into the Black Swan and overtook the stage, I sat up in my chair to watch it. She truly transformed, and the cold hard bitch was gone.
I wish I had seen this movie with someone who could have appreciated it. Rachael didn't get it, and saw it mostly as a scary movie that she didn't understand. She said maybe we should have seen Yogi Bear instead. That's just painful.
I cannot say enough about this movie, and I truly feel I didn’t do it justice with this blog entry.
A blog entry that took almost two weeks, I should mention.