Remind me to find out what a movie is actually about before I go see it. Last night, a friend and I saw Darren Aronosky’s Black Swan starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel. I’d only seen bits and pieces of the trailer. The only things I knew were it was about a ballerina who gets pretty aggressive and it’s already been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. Under normal circumstances, those two factors wouldn’t push me sit in a theater for two hours to watch it, but there was something intriguing and very “un-ballet” about it all. I wanted to see it.
It took about 45 minutes to realize Black Swan is a psychological thriller. There are overtones of seduction and sex, as Nina played by Portman, the timid ballerina selected as Swan Queen, the lead role in a Swan Lake remake, fights to get in touch her dark side to make a perfect performance.
“All that discipline, and for what?”
Without giving away the movie, Black Swan zoomed in on the following themes: passion, self-denial, surrendering to self and eroticism. The movie focuses on the duality of a person, and begs the questions: What are you afraid of? Does perfection really exist?
It’s my opinion that every person has two sides, a ying and a yang. While some people are experts in the balancing act, some only operate in one dimension. Nina was an accomplished ballerina, but her producer doubted her ability to let go and be a seductress for the sake of her craft. Her obsession to be perfect resulted in rigidness, creating a less passionate work.
I’d like to think that while striving for perfection can be healthy, it isn’t the answer to everything. That theme can easily be applied any other area of life. Aren’t there times when “letting go” and stepping outside of the box are necessary? Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself or that which is so familiar and comfortable to get the results you’re seeking.
I’m not a cinema buff, but I think I know a good movie when I see one, and Black Swan is one of them. It stimulates every sense. For most of the movie, I was on the edge of my seat. The cinematography was amazing, taking you through every pirouette and plie’ in the dance sequences. Portman, though lacking in words for much of the film, gives an excellent dance and acting performance. She completely transformed by the end of the film.
There were some holes in the story for me though. There’s little explanation of Nina’s mom’s bizarre behavior or her bodily reactions to some things in the film, but overall it’s a story with just the right mix of thought-provoking symbolism and thrill. Finally, not only does it take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but it forces you to ask yourself if you’ve ever met your “dark” side.
Black Swan was definitely “on pointe.”