Sunday, January 02, 2011

I must have blacked out during Black Swan

Black Swan (R, 108mins)

I think of myself as a pretty intelligent and somewhat 'cultured' person, but I missed something important in this film.

This very dark, psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman seems to follow the story of a ballerina as she prepares for her big principle role as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake for a major ballet company (aka ABT or the like). This I am sure of. What I am so confident is the rest of the movie...what is really happening and not happening, why or why not, and who really exists.

The reviews are overall very positive for this film so I was very optimistic about seeing it (and it has lots of Oscar buzz). I kept waiting for a big twist, a big shock...even holding off a bathroom run as long as possible....nothing came (well, I did make it to the bathroom). I left the theater confused, unsatisfied, and disappointed.

I then tried to read about it as much as I could so I didn't feel so stupid. But it isn't that I missed something, the something really isn't there. The film intentionally presents an open case for the viewer to unravel on her own but too much so, in my opinion. I won't reveal much here since the film wants you to do it on your own. But I would recommend brushing up on your Swan Lake storylines (even stated briefly in the film, I didn't make the connections on my own).

As for the rest of the film, I found Portman's performance, like her character, on one note. All of the characters and their actors are much of the same, very one dimensional and archetypal. The production design is nothing special either.

So, I wouldn't really recommend this film, definitely not spending a night at the theater with it. But it will be nominated for Academy Awards, so if you like to see those films..... I would wait for the free library DVD (with commentary to help explain the film).

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