Newest Review: ... the black swan, and Natalie is very convincing as an angelic figure that cannot break through. Which is where Mila Kunis comes in aptly... more
The light half and the dark half
Black Swan (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Black Swan (DVD)
Advantages: The music, the ending
Disadvantages: Too slow, Natalie Portman's mumbling, boring, shaky camera work, too much fuss about far too little
RELEASED: 2010, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 110 mins
DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky
PRODUCERS: Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer & Brian Oliver
SCREENPLAY: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz & John McLaughlin
MUSIC: Clint Mansell
Natalie Portman as Nina (white swan)
Mila Kunis as Lily (black swan)
Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy
Winona Ryder as Beth MacIntyre
Barbara Hershey as Erica (Natalie's mother)
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Nina is an ambitious young dancer who is auditioning at her ballet company for the part of both the white and black swans in its presentation of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, after Beth MacIntyre has been retired from playing the lead role.
Under the direction of Thomas Leroy who pushes her quite hard, Nina begins to crack up, and throughout the rehearsals, her behaviour deteriorates rapidly as she also has to compete with Lily who Thomas uses as her standby. Additionally, Nina has to cope with her ex-ballet dancer mother Erica, whose affections seem to blow hot and cold, is over-protective and pushes her daughter far too hard to succeed.
I suppose the crux of the film is....does Nina manage to convince Thomas that she is perfect for both the roles of black and white swan, or does she botch the whole thing up whilst losing her mind?
I chose to watch Black Swan after all the hype, anticipating a good, absorbing psychological thriller. I'm not particularly a fan of ballet, but can enjoy a good, well-acted film in any setting, so thought I'd give this a go.
Almost immediately, within just the first few frames, I became irritated. Although it is something I can't pin down or ground, the opening atmosphere lost me completely on a heart and soul level, as there seemed to be a kind of an emptiness about the whole mood which was being created. Such wasn't assisted by me finding Natalie Portman's diction very indistinct to the point where I could only understand about 30% of her dialogue throughout the whole film. Her acting, although by no means excellent, was otherwise passable, but not good enough to enthrall me.
I found certain aspects of the storyline to be 'bitty' and confusing. It wasn't that I didn't understand it because it does come across as an easy ride....it was more that for me there was little or no character development and I began to get confused as to who was who amongst the female members of the ballet group.
The acting by the whole cast struck me as being decidedly mediocre, with my favourite character being dance instructor Thomas Leroy. He wasn't great, but for me was the best of a rather bland bunch.
Whilst I was watching, I was eagerly waiting for something gripping to happen, but there was nothing which stimulated the 'wow' factor in me whatsoever. I also found some of the visual aspects of the film clumsily put together, especially a few of the sections whereby it appeared that the camera was panning around for effect, but whoever was in charge must have had a very shaky hand. This made my eyes go all funny, causing a marked distraction from the struggle I was already experiencing in trying to find something enjoyable about this film.
I didn't notice any incidental music, but there must have been some because Clint Mansell is credited for such on the DVD sleeve....in this case I'm wondering if he merely arranged the score, because to me it largely consists of sections of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake - which is enjoyable in itself, and quite likely was the best overall part of this film.
I also wasn't happy with the way that Nina's psychological decline was portrayed. It is very difficult to put across what she was experiencing in film format, but I feel that other movies have conveyed similar far more accurately.
Overall, I found Black Swan quite a dark and depressing film which isn't a problem in itself, but there for me was nothing strong to back up the bleak mood and atmosphere....and the whole thing (Tchaikovsky's music aside) merely created a temporary and rather tedious diversion from my own little life whereby I probably could have been doing something far more rewarding.
I really do feel that as it stands, Black Swan falls far short of its hype, but it is possible that something good could be drawn from it were it remade, with a new direction/production team and cast. The story in itself is fine, but fell flat on its face for me as I'd like to have seen it approached and created from a totally different angle.
It does seem that I'm in a minority for not liking Black Swan, but I'm afraid it just didn't hit my spot in the slightest, and any messages which may have been contained within simply bypassed me. If I watch a psychological thriller film as this is supposed to be, I want to be excited, stimulated and intrigued....not bored out of my mind or frustrated by poor camera work and indistinct dialogue. I will say just one good thing....and that was to do with the film's ending in that it eventually happened (which was a relief), but at the same time it was what I wanted it to be and how I anticipated.
In summary: One for the charity shop, but I'll award two stars because of the music and what happens at the end.
At the time of writing, Black Swan can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £4.79 to £13.49
Used: from £1.68 to £10.00
Collectible: Two copies currently available, one @ £4.00 and one @ £5.00
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: Nowhere near as good as the hype