At The Theater # 35: Black Swan

Watching the trailer for Black Swan, I couldn’t help but think that this movie was just going to be a by-the-numbers new version of Fight Club, where the twist is that Mila Kunis is the imaginary Tyler Durden to Natalie Portman’s Ed Norton. I was very happy that this turned out to not be the case, which helped make The Black Swan a very good psychological thriller.
Black Swan deals with the theme of “messing up when you’re 95% to a goal” very well. Shortly after the start of the film, Natalie Portman’s character Nina is given the opportunity to get exactly what she’s worked for her whole life, to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. The closer she gets to that goal though, the harder her life becomes, often by her own hand (both figuratively and literally).

There are scenes in Black Swan that make this movie very hard to watch. I didn’t realize how much a mother clipping her daughter’s fingernails could make me recoil until I watched this movie. And any time Natalie Portman would start peeling away her own skin, I could feel my face involuntarily cringe.

Natalie Portman’s eyes are so red, I almost expect her to shoot beams out of them like Cyclops from X-Men.

If you ever had a crush on both Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, you are really going to want to see this movie. You’ll probably even score some points with your girlfriend for taking her to a movie about the ballet. Don’t worry, I won’t tell her your real reason for wanting to see this.

You’ll probably enjoy this scene as well.

I had an easier time separating fantasy from reality in Inception than I did in Black Swan. Director Darren Aronofsky did a great job with the Black Swan in showing things from Nina’s point of view, and making it hard to figure out what was real, what was fantasy and what was a mix of the two.
When your mirror does this, it’s time for a new mirror.

Vincent Cassel plays Thomas Leroy, the ballet director. It was hard to accept him as this object of desire for the characters in Black Swan. The reason? Whenever they showed him in close-up, his eyes were bugged out, making him kind of resemble Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. I kept wanting Cassel to say “Gollum…gollum” (with a smoldering French accent of course).

Actual still of Vincent Cassell in Black Swan.

Should you see Black Swan? Use this formula to figure it out: (Interest in young starlets making out with each other + Interest in psychological thrillers) – Desire to avoid seeing self-mutilation = how much you’d enjoy Black Swan.