Before I even do a review on Black Swan I need to make something clear. I might be more than a casual fan of Natalie Portman’s work. My personal favorite film of all time is without question Leon: The Processional and declare that film to be perfection. I don’t feel the same way here, in fact I only recently watched Black Swan for the first time. I bought a copy the day it was released to DVD, I had it pre-ordered. But I kept putting off the film out the fear that either it wouldn’t live up to my expectations or it wouldn’t surprise me. Black Swan managed to do just that.
Black Swan follows Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a professional ballerina in a New York ballet. She tells her mother, Erica (Barbra Hershey) a former ballet dancers about a dream she had. In the dream she was dancing the role of the White Swan. When she arrives to work she learns that her company is putting on a Production of Swan Lake and that the Director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) has retired his former prima ballerina Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder). Nina competes for the role of the Swan Queen, and while able to perfectly play the part of the White Swan, she lacks the passion to perform the dance of the Black Swan. Rival dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) is pointed out by Thomas as a dancer, that while not as accomplished in skill is able to lose herself to the dance. She eventually asks Thomas for an another audition, he eventually kisses her and she bites him while lost in the moment. This convinces him to cast her as the Swan Queen. Nina becomes more and more obsessed with the role, becoming detached from reality and hallucinating. No, that’s a bad way to describe it, she has increasingly frequent psychotic episodes that build upon one another. Culminating on opening night.
While Black Swan is a good movie, I want that to be clear. It is very deserving of its awards and accolades. I just found it… predictable. Sure, we could say that it’s been so long that it must have been spoiled for me, which would ruin the experience. It was and it didn’t. You learn right quick that Nina is grade A crazy. So after she starts hallucinating entire evenings, you just gotta stop trusting the movie and with the threat that what’s happening might be real is gone. You get a lot of, Meh.
Also, hot damn this movie is beautifully shot and with Matthew Libatique doing cinematography is why. With a slew of simply beautiful films simply left in his wake, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Gothik, Miracle at St. Anna, even Josie and the Pussycats. Sure, he also did Cowboys & Aliens. But no one is perfect.
The music must also be dragged on out for me to praise. Clint Mansell, who also wrote the music for The Fountain and for Requiem for a Dream. I just realized that Matthew Libatique and Clint Mansell just might be my dream team. I think this means I have to watch Noah now I suppose.
Final thoughts, Black Swan is a film where all the parts pulled away from one another are simply amazing. But, when you push all the pieces together, you just end up with, meh. Black Swan fell flat for me and I really wanted it to succeed. To be the kind of film that I’d kick myself for not watching it sooner. But, I’m not and I have to go with my gut, 4/10.