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2/1/11

BLACK SWAN - REVIEW


Darren Aronofsky's latest has done very well for itself. Then again, after The Wrestler, anything by the man behind Requiem For a Dream, Pi and The Fountain would have been highly anticipated. And rightly so.

Marketed as a classy if dark mindf***, Black Swan promised an odd, stylish, original and potentially impressive ride. Surprisingly the result was about as classy as a Burger King karaoke party and far more twisted than expected.

Unfortunately, it all feels far too derivative of many other ideas and far too forced to be a flawless treat. You've essentially got three films in one here: the modern version of Swan Lake (sophisticated, raw, powerful), The Fly (or, rather, The Swan) and The Piano Teacher (or, rather, The Dance Teacher) with bits of Lynch and Aronofsky's own Wrestler thrown in. And as much as I love all the influences involved here, Black Swan is an experiment which just didn't work for me.

What killed The Fountain for me was not its look, its ideas or its feel but just how up its own..."fountain" it all was. The Wrestler worked because of its honest and raw depiction of its main character and there are admittedly elements of that here. The process the ballerinas have to go through to achieve "perfection" is far more interesting and meaningful than Natalie Portman touching herself (sex is evil, she's discovering sex, therefore she's evil, we get it). Symbolism!!!

From a horror film point of view, again, some elements work but mostly it's a mess. The swan transformations feel obvious and unnecessary, the "scares" generally fail and other parts are just too funny for their own good. Winona Ryder's freak out being one of the highlights, not to mention the old man touching his balls scene lol But whenever Portman rips out or breaks a nail, it's genuinely unsettling.

Sadly every other scene is a hallucination or a dream and the film makes no attempt to add any sort of subtlety when it comes to cutting back and forth from dream to reality. It is a shame that whenever a modern adaptation of anything theatrical is made these days (Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth) we always get in-your-face genitals, guns, drugs and trippy night club scenes. God forbid our main character would have lesbian fantasies! She must be turning to the dark side of the Force! "I'm the ambiguously sexualized Swan Queen motherf***er!"

Like Haneke's The Piano Teacher, the film is all around pretty disturbing but once in a while something happens that's just stupid or at least unintentionally funny. Haneke's film was clever enough to not let this happen too much and not let it turn the film into a farce but here I just found it impossible to take anything seriously.

Overall, I guess I can't convince you not to see it and I wouldn't want to: truth is there are good things in Black Swan and even the silly stuff is pretty entertaining. But, my opinion, definitely not a good film but not terrible either just...very very flawed?

"I have some homework for you: go home and touch yourself. Live a little" 


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