Ok.. so, a slightly more involved review 😉
I loved Black Swan SO much that it’s hard to know where to start. I only saw it last night and already I’m dying to see it again. On first viewing there is not a single thing I would change about it.
The cast is small and tight – it really is Natalie Portman’s film – with only five real characters. The direction, cinematography and (as to be expected) editing are also wonderful. There are so many elegant visual clues that I look forward to watching it over because I’m sure there is plenty that I missed first time around.
One of my own personal fixitations in film and literature is the device of the ‘unreliable narrator’ and whilst Black Swan doesn’t necessarily fall neatly into that box we are certainly seeing the world through the eyes of a woman loosing her grasp on reality. She is also, objectively, a rather unappealing character – although of course we understand why..
I think you can read the film on one level, somewhat bluntly, as a story about the uglier side of the delicate art of ballet or more loosely as an allegory of obsession, control, self control, fractured self-image, body-horror, the pressure of being ‘perfect’ and the need for release. It’s quite shocking in places (even for a fairly hardy soul) and these shocks are meated out in a kind of dartlike, sporadic way that often left me gasping. [oh, and as a side note – anyone who thinks the film actually has anything to do with ‘lesbianism’ wasn’t paying attention..]
The whole film is one huge, tense pressure cooker and the second that thing happens with Wynona Ryder you know it is about to blow..
I think if you know the story of Swan Lake there are aspects of the film that are probably quicker to grasp and a slight inevitabilty to the plot – but within that an absolutely crazy freewheel that means there is NO CHANCE OF GETTING BORED. It is grandiose, melodramatic and gothic – but all tempered with a delicate touch and maturity.
Definately one of the best films I’ve ever seen.