Montag, Januar 31, 2011

Black Swan or: this Natalie-Portman-Movie.

Friends, readers, hipsters: I came to bury this movie, not to praise it. Black Swan, the latest movie of Darren Aronofsky (Reqiuem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler) has received an amount of press-attention and hype within my peers only rivalled by The Social Network or back in the days 300.

While myself being a big fan of Natalie Portman, I don't really relate to Darren Aronofsky. I have seen The Fountain and slept like a baby during The Wrestler, but to my own shame I still lack the experience of Requiem for a Dream. Darren Aronofsky Fans might want to leave this review right here and feed a stray cat or throw cherry blossoms into the midwinter sky. Anyway, I went in completely hyped and a bit aware of the whole plot, so I was shaken between expectations of grandeur and my own experiences of movies of that kind: difficult.

Plot in short: Nina, around her early twenties, played by the stunning Natalie Portman, is an aspiring young dancer at the Ballet of New York. With the dismissal of their last stardancer, she gets the rather unique chance to play the swan queen in Tchaikovsky's play under the director Mr Leroy, played by Vincent Cassel, who didn't have to put much effort into his part. Her mother, enacted by Barbara Hershey, once herself a dancer in a ballet, strongly encourages, rather forces Nina to achieve a carreer in ballet and consequently, Nina turns nuts under all the pressure of succeeding, the rivalry between her and her colleagues, the high expectations of the director Thomas Leroy (who is french, now let's be honest, it's basically LeRoi or Leroi, not Leroy, he even curses in french, come on Darren, this is american cliché.) and the boundaries of her own small horizon of experiences between her room and the ballet studio.

Now that jezebel crown is as fitting and astonishing as the rest of Natalie Portman's role.
So, this is not a dancing movie! It's said to be a thriller, yet it is very obvious how the whole thing ends all the time. There are some slightly shocking events that construct around the whole doubleganger-part and easily derive from a splitted mind, but it's not exactly terrifying. So, which genre exactly applies? If it can't be derived from the above-mentioned attributes, there only is one possibility left: a tragedy, wrapped in a dramatic play. A very classical one, consisting of several acts (foreword, preparation, compromise, adaptation and relief of Nina) and a main protagonist that is able to live through a catharsis as she does possess the ability to fall.

Natalie Portman does in fact play a great Nina, yet the other characters are not really a big challenge for well-known stars like Vincent Cassel or Wynona Rider. What I'm criticizing is: no surprises. Wynona Rider is the destroyed role-model, the famous ex-dancer that stands in front of a shattered carreer and a shattered body - a dark fate that lures above Nina. While I was hoping, that LeRoy might bare the one or other surprise or deepness, eventually he ends to be a normal trainer with all the (sexual) connotations and clichés.

According to Aristotle, the viewer of a tragedy receives a catharsis by witnessing the peripeteia of the protagonist. Left with a dropped jaw in respect of the great work of Natalie Portman, I feel still unsatisfied: While a great meal might be made of the finest ingredients, it's all in the composition. Combining lobsters with truffles in one table leaves me confused and not nourished: I'm still not seeing the sense and point of the Black Swan. What benefits, while not amusement or soulfood, could you profit of?


Anonym hat gesagt…

I don't quite agree with your criticism of the film. it's true that one could easily guess what will happen and how the movie will end after having seen the trailer. But the surprises arn't meant to be found in the plot itself but in the little details that make the film a very complex one. The mother, for example, isn't such a flat character. She is torn between pride for her doughter's success and at the same time envying her for it. She wants to do everything possible to help her get on but feeds her with a cake that could kill an experienced cake-eater. She says, she loves her but also makes her responsible for the end of her carreer...
and i could go on...
but why not discuss it @ Purist some time ;-)
Hey lene

Benedikt hat gesagt…

Well, I totally agree with your perspective on the mother. Yet this isn't really complex to me: she's masked very obviously, the hints to her interest in career and the compromise to her envy are not very well hidden. And that's right about everything on that mother, one layer.

But I'm totally game with the purist, let's have a chat there too. :-)