Released 12/3/10 Rated: R
This is one of those films where it ends and you just go “what the hell was that?” Please feel free to replace the word ‘hell’ in that phrase with any other word of your choice. It wasn’t bad, but it was without a doubt ‘F’-ed up. It gives you something to think about.
So basically, it’s the story of Nina, Natalie Portman’s character, growing up. Wow, that makes this movie sound like a teen movie. Let me just clarify that it is not, by any stretch of the imagination. It is rated R for a reason.
This movie also sort of parallels the story of Swan Lake, which, obviously, is the ballet they are working on in the film. This is actually not the focus of the movie. It’s such a light plug into the plot line that I had to think about that one for a moment. (I also didn’t know the story of Swan Lake, but looking it up I realized I had seen The Swan Princess when I was little. Not quite the same, but close enough.)
Nina is a perfectionist when it comes to her ballet career. She pushes herself to get the technique down by practicing after hours, as well as at home. It’s finally her time to shine, but due to this obsession she seems to have, it comes at a price. This film is psychological in that it’s letting the audience into the mind of an obsessive perfectionist….and that it messes with you. I thought this was done creatively and somewhat artful. One thing I did pick up on, mostly due to my film classes in college, is the symbol and importance of the mirror. And there are mirrors everywhere in this film. If I explain any further I might ruin the movie, but it was effective. The use of the mirror was very well done. This film certainly keeps you on your toes, I’ll say that. Some of it leaves you wondering, and some of it doesn’t, but I think this was done very well. But I digress.
So back to my comment about how this movie is about Nina growing up. She is an only child with a (supposedly) single mother. You do the math. Nina’s mother is essentially smothering her, but Nina hasn’t realized this until the pressure is on and she can’t take it anymore. Her room is pink, and filled with lots of stuffed animals. Her mother dresses/undresses her, takes out her earrings, clips her fingernails, tucks her in, winds her music box, is clingy, does not give her child any privacy…you get the picture: suffocating. Nina is basically a twenty-something-year-old living a twelve-year-old’s dream…with an overbearing mother. Anyway, because of all this Nina is very innocent and a little naive about the world around her. Perfect for half of the role she was chosen to play: the white swan.
However, the other half of her role, the black swan, needs work. While the white swan has an air of innocence and perfection, the black swan is one of sexuality and seduction. Nina has had no room in her life for either one of these with her dancing taking over, so she’s sort of out in open water at the beginning of rehearsals. It’s by struggling with the role of the black swan that Nina sort of puts herself at odds with Lily, Mila Kunis’s character, a newcomer at the dance company. Lily is everything Nina is not, which she (Nina) resents a little. So she tries to keep her distance, but…well, you’ll have to watch it and see for yourself.
When I first saw the trailer, I thought this movie was going to be messed up and dark. It was messed up all right, however not in the way I had envisioned, and it sure as hell was dark. I liked the fact that it was psychological and showed us what was going on in her head, as well as what wasn’t. And the way it was done gave the story more of a twist than the usual: feature full of random stuff happening, and then a cop-out ending telling us none of it actually happened. See if for yourself and let me know what you think! And thank you Darren Aronofsky for breaking the mold and not giving us more typical Hollywood-B.S.!
Worth seeing if you’re prepared to think on it a little.