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Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Black Swan" Movie Review


Now that I have this blog going, I’ve decided that it would be fun to review a movie once a month.   I’m thinking once a month is probably enough since sometimes it’s fun to just watch a movie and not pick it apart. Combining my love of movies with my love of writing sounds like a fun activity!  But, this is my first review I’ve ever written, so we’ll see how it goes…

“Black Swan” Directed by Darren Aronofsky.  Starring Natalie Portman & Mila Kunis

I checked out the reviews on Yahoo before I started this post to see if my thoughts were similar to the people that do this for a living and was surprised at what I found.  Usually if critics like a movie, it usually means I won’t, and vise versa.  This is why I generally don’t read movie reviews.  The average grade this movie received was an A-, which is what I would give it.

Natalie Portman portrays a ballerina named Nina, up for the lead role in her ballet company’s production of “Swan Lake”.  Early on you are shown her dedication to her craft, which can be construed as an obsession.  She is an uptight, naive, and is set at achieving perfection.  Watching her stretch out her feet and hear the cracks and pops of her joints was enough to make my stomach queasy and have to set down my popcorn, but I’m sure that was the affect they wanted out of the audience.  Natalie Portman was completely believable as a dancer.  She has a petite figure already that with a some training you had no idea you were watching an actress and not a classically trained ballerina.

Once Nina lands the role as lead in the ballet production, she becomes paranoid that the new dancer  in the studio, Lily (Mila Kunis), is trying to take her role.  Nina brushes her paranoia aside and eventually believes that Lily is just trying to be a friend.  Her friendship with Lily slowly breaks down her walls and loosens her up, which is what the director of the ballet wants most from her.  In order to possess the dual roles of the white swan and the black swan in the ballet, she needs to display her strong technique, but have a more fluid and relaxed delivery.  Not only does Lily help bring out a more relaxed and reckless side of Nina, she seems to rescue her from her obsessed mother.  Nina’s mother was also a dancer until she gave it up to have Nina. She lived vicariously through her daughter, to great extremes.  There were times when Nina’s mother reminded me of the crazed mother from Stephen King’s “Carrie”, not with the religious elements but the way she was just so over the top like Carrie’s mother was.  But, Lily’s efforts to help her fellow dancer didn’t over power Nina’s intense paranoia and psychotic tendencies.  Nina went to such extremes that would have anyone committed.

What made this movie so suspenseful was not knowing, throughout almost the whole movie, whether Lily was really out to get Nina, or if it was all in her head.  It kept you guessing throughout the whole hour and 45 minutes.  Another great suspense feature was the camera work.  The camera followed the characters with every move and the unsteadiness that would normally drive me nuts with most movies, added an element of terror that made you feel like you were experiencing the horror that Natalie Portman’s character was going through.   If you’ve ever seen a live production of “Swan Lake” or heard the music from it, you’ll know how creepy and dark it is.  The score from this movie was probably the second most affective element in creating suspense.  By the end of the movie my heart was racing and my hands were a little shaky.  This movie definitely achieved what it set out to do.


Melissa gives this movie an A-

photo credit: Fox Searchlight

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