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Reviews Comments: A little too Black and White. Black Swan film/book review by Designated NPC

First, let me say: All the Aronofsky hallmarks are here. The almost too-close closeups, the physical injuries representing the character's deteriorating inner state, the brutal look at how great a toll being "the best" can take on someone determined enough to lose everything for their goal.

The problem? Among other things, our heroine has little enough to lose, and it's not a far drop to 'outright violent lunacy.' That Nina is pre-unhinged yet positively terrified of everything makes it seem heavy-handed at best when her 'change' begins; it doesn't feel natural, nor does it have the terrifying descent into madness and isolation that could be found at the other extreme. Instead it settles for shock value, like an aspiring director being edgy for edgy's sake. Nina's relationship with her mother has brief moments of clarity but is too quickly sacrificed for stage-mother cliches, then glossed over; the little-girl bedroom makes the overdone club scene feel less dangerous and more tacky, Lily is little more than a too-obvious bull in the china-shop of Nina's innocence/naivete, and Thomas - while interesting - is chained to the Casting Couch cliche.

I liked Pi. I cried in Requiem For A Dream and The Wrestler. Black Swan had more in common with The Fountain. Aronofsky is adept at making us care and fear and weep for characters, but only if they come with the visceral reality of the 'real world' to ground them. Black Swan, like The Fountain, suffers from too little connection to reality, and the resulting movie seems disjointed and contrived. It has its moments: The gore is startling, the dance and costumes beautiful, the score as good as ever. But at times I found myself wishing the Scare Chord would cut it out so I could hear the music, and that's how I felt about the movie: Out of the way, talked-about lesbian scene and darkening-of-outfits-to-obviously-portray-inner-self! When Natalie Portman begs her mom not to trash the cake because really, she loves it, thank you! That's the uncomfortable, bordering-on-painful drama I want, not the melodrama I got.

I saw it in part because of the hype; now I'm thinking the most accurate critical review was The Hollywood Reporter's "guilty pleasure," though it wasn't even that for me. Not because of the actors; because of the director's choices.


  • Schitzo
  • 16th May 11
My problem with the film is a different one: I took away nothing from it. because I could no longer depend on Nina for some clarity in the film, I could no longer feel sorry for her. I don't know what happened to anyone or anything, and because everything is up to interpretation, I really can't bother to fill in the blanks myself, since it wouldn't be valid anyway. This was a Darren Aronofsky film with all the trademarks the same way Death Proof was a Tarantino film through and through. Unfortunately, both films felt like a slap in the face and a fuck you to it's fans.

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