I Just Wanted It To Be Perfect

By February 7, 2011Opinions

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 :-/

Until then…


Author Dazza

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Megan Fox says:

    Your 100% right about the movie Dazza.

  • jesslv74 says:

    I’m really glad you finally got to see it, that you liked it, and that it lived up (mostly) to your expectations. Because I just read this and haven’t really digested it, I probably shouldn’t respond right away but I have a compulsion to.

    I pretty much agree with everything you said except the last third of the movie. I thought the transformation ended the ballet well…she finally attained what she so much desired.

    So I have a question for you. What did you expect the climax to be, or what would you have liked it to be? Like you said, there was really nowhere else for the story to go, or at least for the ballet to go. What would you have done differently?

  • dazza says:

    I didn’t have anything specific in mind, hence Aronofsky is a visionary and I am just some douche. But, the whole film is leading up to that moment (and arguably the final moment) and it came and went so quickly. The first Black Swan dance was great, as is the backstage moment in between, and then it really ramps up the transformation as she goes out again. But it felt so quick from there to the end. A few spins, some wings and then the applause.

    What I had heard and the leg breaking just had me thinking that the transformation would be even more extreme, but I don’t know what I really would have liked. I just know that while it was great, it didn’t tear my chest out like the climax of The Fountain.

    Again, if I had no expectations I probably would have been “holy shit, what is happening!”. But alas.

  • omgzrachel says:

    I feel you on that last part. The pacing in the film overall felt way too brisk.

  • rhea says:

    I mostly agree with your review. However, as someone who hadn’t been “spoiled” (I carefully avoided all pictures and videos before seeing the movie), I have to say that the part where she sprouts wings really had me go “Oh shit, what’s happening!” as you eloquently put it 🙂 I admit I might have reacted differently had I known it was coming at some point. Just saying.

  • amo says:

    I agree about the wings. It’s just not enough (especially as she spends so long looking at that statue). I wonder if they didn’t feel, ‘Fuck it, we’ve been working on this for a decade and we got lapped by Miley Cyrus. Let’s just fucking give up.’

  • jesslv74 says:

    I felt totally drawn in by the movie the whole time and didn’t want it to end, so for me it went by too fast. Don’t know if that was just me or the directing, etc.

  • WanderinRoy says:

    Wow, Dazza finally goes to see Black Swan, and today, Box Office Mojo lists Black Swan as jumping up to almost $48 million dollars in foreign ticket sales!

    Just how many times did you go and see this film, Dazza??

  • dazza says:

    I have a big posse.

  • cherryvanilla says:

    Though the BS transformation was a big wow,, the climax for me was in the final scene where she’s on top of the stairs looking down on her mother. I’ve seen it 3 times already and in that moment tears roll down my cheeks everytime. So much emotion communicated with no words at all. Sheer awe at Nat’s acting!

  • aygswithlaygs says:

    I also agree with several of your points, especially about Mila Kunis. Maybe because I also did pointe for several years, but when Cassel says something to the effect that her movements are imprecise, sensual, not faking… I didn’t see it. She danced for maybe 5 minutes. And her hair was down! Any instructor in a company will get on to you for letting your hair down just during barre work. But that’s just my little nitpick. 🙂

  • jennibiris says:

    I didn’t know exactly what to expect before going into the movie, so as I watched the climax I was astounded. it hit my heart and chest pretty hard. even afterwards. loved it!

  • thevoid99 says:

    Excellent as usual Dazza.

    BTW, did they show the trailer for “The Tree of Life” on the big screen? You have to admit, those are gorgeous images.

  • jesslv74 says:

    Reah, I did the same thing (which I try to do with all movies) and am SO GLAD I did, esp after seeing the trailer AFTER the movie, which I felt like gave so much away. I probably would have reacted differently too had I known more but went in so blind that I didn’t know what to expect other than the movie was about ballet and Mila Kunis was in it (who I found disappointing as well). Then coming out I realized it was about much more than ballet. It’s still sticks with me.

    Amo, what do you mean by this? “‘Fuck it, we’ve been working on this for a decade and we got lapped by Miley Cyrus. Let’s just fucking give up.'” I don’t get the Miley Cyrus reference.

  • omgzrachel says:

    I’m with you guys on the spoilers. I really wish I had not seen the trailer and TV spots before seeing the movie. I feel like they spoiled quite a bit of the big moments and took some of the punch out of others.

  • jesslv74 says:

    See why I’m such a spoilerphobe Rachael? hehe 😉