Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jason watches BLACK SWAN

And let's get this out of the way first--yes, there's an explicit scene of Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman. It's hot, but tasteful, and not at all pornographic. And it's a very small part of the movie.

As for the rest of it, yeah, it's pretty great. It's a tight psycho-sexual drama, and there's some effectively heavy-handed use of visual themes of reflection and transformation. As for a story, it's the story of "Swan Lake," taking place in a troupe of ballet dancers preparing to perform "Swan Lake." Confession, I don't actually know the original story of "Swan Lake," but I trust that the synopsis given in the movie is accurate. And as theater director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) says, although it's been done to death, they're going to do it raw, visceral, and "real" (remember that). Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a perfectionist ballerina, who is still a little innocent girl. Leroy promises that if he were only casting the Swan Queen, it would definitely be her, but the lead also has to play her evil, seductive twin the Black Swan. She gets the role after talking to him in private, which leads to all sorts of rumors and recriminations from the cast. More importantly, a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis) joins the cast. She's a free spirit from San Francisco, and although not as polished as Nina she easily gives herself over to the dance, and becomes her alternate. And friend, and rival, and object of desire, and tormentor.

Beautiful, great acting, and a polished, confidant direction, but I was at a bit of a loss to get what it all adds up to, or why I should care. There's the pretty obvious theme that to become the Black Swan (i.e., to become an adult, with all the sexual, fleshy degradation that entails) necessarily means the destruction of the innocent Swan Queen. But there's also a climax that suggests it's just as much about suffering for your art, which led me to wonder that if Darren Aronofsky actually believes in sacrificing for your art, why doesn't he kill himself? Oops--Spoiler Alert.

Running Time: 108 minutes
My Total Minutes: 217,824
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