26 October 2012

October 26th

Black Swan (2010) directed by Darren Aronofsky
Lots of folks seem to consider this an honorary horror movie -- including Ari Lehman at the Flint Horror Con -- so I gave it a spin during my Six Weeks.  Normal people are going to avoid that label in favor of the far more respectable "psychological thriller" tag, but, yes, this is a horror movie about a repressed woman who cracks under pressure and descends into madness.  Losing one's mind is one of the more horrific things that can happen to a person and this film illustrates that better than just about any I can think of.

I love the way the film handles Nina's increasing mental instability.  It starts slowly, with scratches on her back and mysteriously bleeding fingertips.  We catch a very quick glimpse of a drawing's eyes moving.  Nina spies a woman dressed in a black on the street who, only at first, seems to mimic her movements.  They are all very subtle and, strangely, very believable hints that Nina is having some problems.  As a repressed perfectionist, it seems like these are the small ways the intense mental pressure in Nina's mind might seek an outlet.

The arrival of Lily into her life opens the floodgates.  Lily -- the real Lily -- represents everything she is not: a free-spirit who, while technically an imperfect dancer, makes up for any flaws with the emotion she infuses into her performance.  Which happens to be exactly what Thomas is looking for in a Black Swan performance.  Naturally, a part of Nina's already damaged mind begins to take on some of Lily's personality traits in order to pull off a perfect Black Swan performance.  Imaginary Lily becomes Nina's own Tyler Durden, in a way, pushing her into letting go of the extreme control she's exercised over herself for her entire life.  I dig the subtly of the transformations -- when imaginary Lily's face would switch quickly to Nina's -- quite a bit.  It's all blink-and-you'll-miss-it and I was often not sure of what I was seeing, exactly.  Perfect for putting you into Nina's frame of mind.

This a heckuva complicated character study.  Portman certainly deserved that Oscar.  I need to watch this film again to see what else in here.

Watched: blu-ray from Fox.


  1. I noticed on the second viewing that when Nina is talking about her dream at the beginning of the movie, her mom is in the other room and Nina is talking to herself. Great times.

  2. "Black Swan" was pretty good, wasn't it? The entire final ballet sequence is breath-taking, I love all the subtle visual cues here and there (Like the Black Swan appearing during the club scene), the shot of Portman masturbating cutting to her Mom's face is pretty high up-there on my all-time list of boner-killing moments. The fact that I actually had a really bad case of stomach flu when I saw the movie in the theater might have added to my appreciation of it some, in a way.

    I maintain that Portman didn't actually deserve the Oscar. Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone" was a better performance. (And a better movie.) But Oscar arguments are for February. (Or at least December.)