Movie Review: Black Swan

Scene from the movie Black Swan
Black Swan

Just in time for the Oscar award announcements, I watched Black Swan at a local movie theater Saturday night.  Minor spoilers follow; if you prefer no details about the movie, don’t read any further!

It could have been a great movie. It’s especially disappointing to me as Darren Aronofsky created my favorite movie, Pi which also had themes of success and paranoia.

What went wrong:
– Heavy handed
Yes, we get that the lead character may be having issues with perceiving reality. You don’t have to spell it out in movie cliches.

– Boring archetypes
Egotistical ballet company leader.  Infantalizing stage mother.  Washed up predecessor.  Sexually permissive free spirit = grace. Technical talent = frigidity.  Zzzzzz.

– Bad use of fear/horror
During what were supposed to be scary scenes, I was laughing (as was about 15% of the audience.)   Is this a camp gay film?!?  I foresee this playing the Castro in the future with a floor cast.

What went right:
Casting
A good crew. I found it interesting that the four main characters (Portman, Kunis, Hershey, and Ryder) are all Jewish. (disclosure: it is suspected (but not confirmed) that I am 1/4 Jewish.)

Cinematography
The movie felt claustrophobic, just as paranoia shrinks ones world.

Other comments:

Is it me or was it meta to cast Winona Ryder in the role of former ingenue?

Did Portman deserve the Oscar?  I don’t think the part, as written and directed, tested her range.  Her physical transformation (ala Raging Bull) and her dancing were remarkable.

Summary: 2 of 4 stars.

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