Friday, January 21, 2011

My Thoughts on Black Swan

Made it out to see Black Swan with a friend last night.  It was freaking phenomenal.  I don't know that I ever need to see it again, but I am very glad I did see it, and in theaters at that.  The people who sat behind us who left the theater saying how horrible it was clearly didn't get it.  I think they were expecting a horror film though, and not a psychological mind trip.  This is a film for people who like cinema.  It is a piece of art that just happens to tell a story that is completely mind-blowing in the process.  A story that is all the more disturbing because despite the hints of something supernatural, it is a very human tale.

I am still trying to digest the film, but without getting too spoilery, here are some of the thoughts that have been running through my mind since I walked away from Black Swan.

Natalie Portman is an amazing actress.  She really is.  Wow.  That being said, though, Mila Kunis is a completely amazing, and utterly under appreciated, actress as well.  I am not sure where Black Swan falls for Oscar eligibility, but I would love to see her get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for this because holy cow does she deserve it.  I think I am totally in love with her now, just a little bit.

Just typing that last bit, and thinking about it for a minute made me realize that it totally passes the Bechdel Test, and with flying colors.  While there are men in this movie, every last one of them, even the "main" male lead, is extraneous.  They are just part of the background, or the spurs to get the story moving in a certain direction.  And I didn't even notice that until just now.  This totally isn't a chick flick.  Even though it's all about ballet.  No, seriously.  It's not.  I am really not joking here.

I am still reeling over how well Nina's story was integrated and made parallel to the story of Swan Lake, the production which her company is putting on.  What happens to her throughout the film, as horrifying as it is (in a completely psychological way, not in a cheap thriller kind of way, which makes it so much worse and better), makes complete sense if you pay attention to what is said about how she approaches the roles she plays in each production.

There are a few moments from the film that, even now, I cannot decide if they actually happened (or which parts of them actually happened), or if they were all in Nina's mind.  That's some very, very good story telling right there.  

However.  Not to nitpick the story, but just an observation--I think about 98% of Nina's problems could have been avoided had she a) moved the heck out of her mother's house as soon as she turned 18, and b) invested in a good therapist.  But, had she done those things that would have told a very different, and probably far less compelling story.  But man, oh man, do I appreciate my mother so much more after having seen this.  I love you Mom.  Thank you for letting me live my own life and not being, you know, a freaking lunatic.

I really, truly, dearly hope that my daughter does not decide to become a professional dancer.  I realize that there is a level of passion involved here that I cannot even begin to comprehend.  But what these women do to their bodies in order to stay "in shape," and what they do to themselves mentally to be able to endure the lives they have chosen, these are not the things healthy, well-adjusted people do.  Nor is the abuse they willingly put up with from outside sources (mental and physical) so that they can get ahead.  It is disheartening, to say the least.  I wish I could say that I admired these women for their drive and their dedication, but really I am just saddened by them, because I can't imagine that they actually lead happy lives.

To sum up:  Black Swan is absolutely amazing.  It is extremely intense, and if you go to see it (which I recommend), be prepared to be put through an emotional and psychological wringer.  Wow.

Ending on a happy note, hey, look, it's Friday!  New Gronk!  There's some excellent Ghostbusters references going on in today's guest strip.  Enjoy!  Happy weekend, folks, see you Monday!

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