I decided to go see Black Swan this afternoon with two really good friends. They’re both huge movie buffs and I’d heard nothing but really great things about it so I figure that it would be fun to go watch it together. Judging from all the previews, it was going to be one of those psych thrillers that fuck with your mind.
Two hours later, the entire movie can be summarized by the five minutes I sat through after the credits started rolling. The lights slowly came up and the applause (from the movie, not the actual theater audience) faded away, but I stayed in my seat and continued to stare at the screen. As names of cast and crew members dissolved into a feathery white background, I asked my friends, “…what the fuck just happened?”
I get that the director was trying to go for a movie that didn’t completely make sense. I get that the story itself was supposed to be a blurred line between delusion and reality. That’s fine. But the movie did it in the worst way possible.
For those of you who don’t know, Black Swan is about a sheltered ballerina rising to prominence as she lands the lead role in her company’s production of Swan Lake. She is considered technically perfect, but the director (or producer or whatever) wants her to let go and feel the role of the black swan and find her sensual side and seduce the audience. The rest of the movie chronicles her descent into madness as she experiences crazy hallucinations and literally becomes the black swan she is trying to portray.
That being said, there was no line drawn between the hallucinations and reality. I didn’t know what happened and what didn’t. That’s probably what the director was going for, but I personally did not appreciate the effort. I felt no sympathy or connection with Nina, the protagonist, and the hallucinations themselves were fucking creepy. There was a part in the movie when the former prima ballerina, Beth, stabs herself in the face with a nail file.
Let me repeat that.
SHE STABS HERSELF IN THE FACE WITH A NAIL FILE.
In addition, Nina peels a hangnail that goes all the way to her second knuckle, she starts growing black feathers all over her back and there’s this one really terrifying part when Nina’s taking a bath and she slips under the surface of the water when the shot just suddenly switches to a shot of her evil doppleganger (or split personality or whatever) hovering over her in the bathtub.
And don’t get me started on the gratuitous sex scene between Lilly and Nina. There was literally no need for that scene and I’m certain that the director just threw that in for shock value. She could have had hallucinatory sex with anyone else. Or better yet, there shouldn’t have been a sex scene period. If the sex scene hadn’t happened, it would have made her spontaneous kiss with the director and her transformation into the sensual black swan that much more intense.
I also found myself laughing at parts that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to laugh at. Like when Nina bites Thomas after he forces a kiss on her. Or when he dances with her and ends up seducing her. Or when Nina tries masturbating and her mother’s in her room (that made me crack up). Or pretty much any time anyone tries or actually accomplishes touching Natalie Portman’s crotch. (Honestly, I think that the movie should have been billed as starring Natalie Portman and Natalie Portman’s crotch, because it seems to have been just as big a star in that movie as the actress it belongs to.)
There was one part of the movie when Thomas brings Nina to his apartment right after this big benefit/gala/fundraiser/party thing and he’s trying to come onto her and asks her all these questions about sex and enjoying it and touching herself and all that stuff. He says, “I have some homework for you.” Marc whispered next to me, “And it’s in my pants.” Which made me crack up even more than I already was.
Maybe I would have enjoyed the movie more if I felt that was entirely free to mock it with my friends. It’s certainly a mockable film.
But in the end, it took itself too seriously, and the whole storyline was way too creepy in general. My ultimate opinion: Don’t bother. It’s a waste of time and a waste of money.