Yesterday I was able to FINALLY catch Black Swan. Sitting here, I realize I have literally nothing new to add to the conversation, a conversation that was concluded weeks ago. I am that late guy to the party but for anyone who cares, I’ll share a few thoughts after the jump.
There will probably be some spoilers, but since I’m the last person in the universe to see the film, that shouldn’t be a problem.
So, as I stood outside the cinema, with my “I am Dazza from natalieportman.com” t-shirt, waiting for cute South African Natalie fans to recognize me and offer to buy me popcorn, I realized how strange a film going experience I was about to have.
To say I had been spoiled would be an understatement. You just can’t cover a film like that for the site and not have 90% of the important details/images seep into your brain, whether you like it or not.
Another concern was the hype. I started the hype myself by breaking into cartwheels when news of Black Swan hit. I’m a huge Aronofsky fan and I said from the get go that I thought he’d be able to really push Natalie to a new level of performance.
I wish I could have seen the film with less expectations and details, but this is the way it had to be. While I do think I would have reacted better to the film if that had been the case, Black Swan is still one of my favourite films of the year.
The first 2/3rds are good. It feels like a world we haven’t seen before. It darts between very real and theatrical like a slalom skier, creating a wonderful energy. Too much real could have felt overly oppressive and depressing. Too much fantasy might have undercut the stakes and the drama.
Then comes that final 3rd. Black Swan isn’t the most intellectually taxing film you’ll ever see and, in all honesty, I think you could say the same for all Aronofsky’s films…even Pi, which was literally about intellectual taxing of the brain.
What he does best is make you feel, and there aren’t many directors who know how to build to a climax like him. He uses all the tools at his disposal to crank up the energy, the stakes, the horror…and it’s just exciting. In a way it’s like a roller coaster ride – completely visceral in an out of body kind of way.
For me, Black Swan is up there with Leon, Heat and Closer as her best films. As a performance, it surpasses my previous favourites. Like the film, it’s theatrical. There isn’t a whole lot of subtlety, but it’s a powerful raw nerve edge of your seat performance, and I’m still kind of blown away with what I saw from her.
On the negative side of things, the supporting cast was good, but I personally don’t see how any of them are being considered for awards. Cassel could play that character in his sleep. Mila had energy but not for one moment did I think “wow, that’s Mila Kunis!”. Hershey was suitably mothering and creepy but it wasn’t much more than a single note. They did the job required. No more. No less.
The other thing that disappointed me, and this is where expectations played a huge part, was…I had seen the image of Natalie unfolding her wings. I knew that she was literally transform into the Black Swan. I did not think that image would be the climax of the Black Swan performance. I assumed it was just as the transformation was really ramping up. Particularly as it follows the scene where her legs “break” in her bedroom before the performance.
So when there was that applause and she exits the stage, for a moment I felt like…”was that it?”
There was no reason for the story to go any further. The character beat was perfect. Yet, because of expectations I was disappointed that it was over so soon and hadn’t gone even further.
But really, those are nitpicks. I’m just really happy with Natalie and Darren in particular. Natalie to get the role of a lifetime and for Darren to finally get that mainstream success.
I’ll be back around this time next year with my Your Highness review :-/