I have been looking forward to seeing Black Swan for months; I don’t think I’ve ever been so certain I wanted to see something based solely on the trailer. If I’m sure I want to see a film, I try not to read any reviews beforehand, and it was getting difficult to avoid encountering people’s reactions, so I went to see it yesterday.
I think it might be the campest movie ever made. It’s not just the themes — it’s a film about ballet, and mummy issues, and suffering for your art, and the grubby reality behind the glamorous surface, and jealousy and fear of ageing — it’s the fact that it is a trashy melodrama acted and filmed as though it was the Most Serious Thing In The World. It is played absolutely straight, as high drama; I don’t think there’s a single joke in the whole film. Natalie Portman acts the central role with a high-strung intensity that actors normally reserve for films about genocide. It’s a great performance.
I assume that everyone involved knew exactly what they were doing, but because there is never a knowing wink to the audience, the bizarre possibility is just about left open that they really meant it. That they really thought they were making a serious, penetrating psychological drama.
Either way, it is completely bonkers. In the end, as it reached a feverish climax, it didn’t quite take me with it, it didn’t quite pull it off, but I still enjoyed it. It was the perfect antidote to The King’s Speech.
3 replies on “Black Swan”
Supposedly the original idea was to mesh The Wrestler with Black Swan, which would’ve made both movies much worse. I took the casting of Winona Ryder to be the knowing wink, but maybe I’m giving the creators too much credit.
And, the cinema where I saw it was filled with mothers who brought their teen daughters to watch it together. That should add +/- two years more therapy per daughter, I would think.
‘I took the casting of Winona Ryder to be the knowing wink, but maybe I’m giving the creators too much credit.’
The more I think about it, the more I’m sure they knew what they were doing; the final scenes are so over the top, and the last line in particular is so cheesy. They just understood that if you’re going to make high melodrama, it’s better to go full-in instead of undercutting your own work with jokes and irony. I think it’s refreshing. It’s big-budget glamorous entertainment without giant robots and explosions.