Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Black Swan Film Review - A Lot Of Tchaikovsky, But That's About As Ballet As It Gets

Black Swan (2010) is a film about the black and white in a personality. There is not a shade of grey in this one. Harshness meets head on with gentle. Black comes head to head with white. You’re left holding on to the edge of your seat (or the bean bag, in my case) with its stunning sound and cinematography, putting a true meaning to grit.
First, I have to say that the true hero/ine of this film is the storytelling. 

Natalie Portman was stunning in her role and performance - but its not what one would call ‘perfection’. The story however was so well written, Nina (Portman) was right when she concludes with “perfect” at the end of the film/performance.

Irony andParadoxes
Ridden with irony and paradoxes, Black Swan says that perfection is acheived by much sacrifice, surprise, terror and intuition. Not rules, routine and order. The painful ordeal that Nina goes through throughout the film was the purging - the weaning - of her own self. Natural law says that a gold piece is gleaned and hammered and passed through the furnace so that the beautiful end product emerges. Nina was weaned carved and chiselled in much pain from start to end - and we watch the process - and being so well photographed, we wince along with her, almost feel her pain, share her shocks and demons, pleasure and pain - everything.


Cinematography/Photography
This was the highlight for me with Black Swan; Use of mirrors and reflections to portray multiple personalities, and, Close hand held camera to acheive close proximity with character. The camera in most cases was so close to the character that you could hear her even just breathing throughout the movie. The movement was free and unrestrained. 


Characterization
Natalie Portman deserved her Oscar award for this one. But on a slightly critical note, I thought the character was overplayed - which again, would have been what the script probably demanded of her. About ten years from now Nina possibly might not seem very believable as a real life character. Yes, the acting and the writing might be acclaimed forever as a feat. But the practicality of the character won’t be as long lived as the hype over its film making. You know, there is a difference between a good story and a good movie story. This is a terrific movie story. It is just not real life enough.
It is a bit like Slumdog Millionaire. It is a great great story. You hit the spot with making a stunning work with it. But it is not real - not even close to it. 
Of course. Film making is not real life story telling. It is entertainment. It is enthralling audiences. Black Swan damn well enthralled all.

Appropriate? R18?
There are a few scenes that you might want to block your eyes to, if you’re easily disturbed. You won’t watch this with your family. It is not tastefully done either, if you’re curious about the ‘tastefulness’ of the ‘inappropriate’ scenes. This isn’t James Bond. I guess all I’d say is: Pick this film in your tougher days, when you feel like you can take on anything. Expect blood. Gritty stuff. 
I was stunned by the end. 

Conclusion
No, this is not your typical ballet tip toeing film. A lot of Tchaikovsky but that’s about as ballet as it gets. 

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