Movie Review: the Black Swan

While travelling, I found the Black Swan at a discount price. I’d heard a lot of really good things about the movie and I was looking for some new entertainment venues, so I picked it up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the hotel I was staying at didn’t offer any sort of ability to play movies and laptop doesn’t have a DVD/CD drive. So I didn’t get a chance to watch the movie until today, when I’m procrastinating from doing a long list of things that I really do need to get done at some point ever.

“Nina is a stunningly talented but dangerously unstable ballerina on the verge of stardom. Pushed to the breaking point by her driven artistic director and the threat posed by a seductive rival dancer, Nina’s tenuous grip on reality starts to slip away – plunging her into a waking nightmare.”

I don’t know how much detail I’m going to go into with this review, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ll probably have some spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the movie and you want to be as messed up watching it for the first time as I was, I suggest you not read this review. You’ve been duly warned.

The first thing I have to say after finishing this movie is how it absolutely fucked me up. This movie was done so very, very well that it was nearly impossible for me to tell what was real and what was purely in Nina’s head. In fact, I’m fairly certain even if I rewatch the movie repeatedly, I’m not certain I will ever really be able to tell the difference between reality and Nina’s imagination. I’m certain there are hints and clues throughout the movie, or potentially tiny discrepancies, but I have no idea when I’ll be able to watch this movie again to verify if some of my suspicions are accurate. See? That’s how seriously this movie messed with me – I have no idea if I’ll be able to watch it again, as much as I appreciate how this movie was so beautifully done. Which also makes me curious as to what would potentially motivate me to subject myself to this kind of emotional turmoil again, because this movie really was quite traumatic for me.

I guess one of the other aspects of this movie that really got to me was the view into the world of ballet. The extreme dedication and obsessiveness that goes with being a professional ballerina just boils my mind. How they destroy their expensive shoes and break their feet and push through all sorts of pain and destructive tendencies in order to strive for perfection. The natural talent versus the drive and dedication and how both are seen as the goal which must be obtained. Both sides, the natural talent and the dedicated worker are both slightly jealous of each other and both have their spirals into madness.

Nina and Lily are competing dancers in the ballet, but the similarities and the balance between the two was instantly felt when the characters are introduced. You can tell that Nina’s life is starting to get to her – that she’s alone and isolated working towards a state of being that she has no passion for. Lily is passionate and wild and her talent is raw and unscripted. The two combined are a perfect match, but Nina’s grip on reality is so fragile that it’s unclear if Lily and Nina are actually potential friends or if a close relationship with someone other than her mother is such a powerful dream for Nina that she hallucinated all of it.

This movie is an incredibly powerful piece that had a very profound impact on me. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I watched this movie, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be messed with nearly this much. It’s a very, very good movie and very, very well done. So if you like psychological horror, this is a great movie. As much as I’m uncertain if I’ll be able to watch this movie again any time soon, I’d say it easily ranks as a four on my rating scale. It’s strong, it’s powerful, it’s totally messed up. But it’s also done as flawlessly as I can imagine for a movie like this.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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