credit: Fox Searchlight
Black Swan started with a whirling mixture of beauty and darkness. The way it captured ballet on-screen was stunning. I loved the close up shots of the footwork on pointe and the reflective surfaces throughout the movie. The costumes were stunning with soft white feathers and of course the tutus were to die for. Even the evil sorcerer Rothbart looked brilliant in costume and through the transformation. Then, everything went downhill from there. It goes to show how beauty is only skin deep.
Nina vs. Mother
I tried to understand the mother. I really did. But she really had a way of pushing all my buttons. The way the mother won’t let Nina undress herself or sends away her visitors. But what really got on my nerve was the fact that she doesn’t help Nina’s psychological disorder in a rational way. It’s apparent that the scratching is a recurring issue and that Nina needs help. Instead of trying to get her professional help or at least trying to be encouraging she was always extremely unsupportive of her daughter. It was almost as if the mother didn’t want her daughter to succeed because she hadn’t had a successful career as a ballerina herself. The fact that she uses scissors to cut Nina’s nails when she was clearly upset and likely to hurt her daughter, which she did, just made me hate her all the more. Apparently they were rounded scissors used for babies which reinforces the fact that this mother treats her grown up daughter like a little girl.
Nina vs. Instructor
While the instructor had me spelling out sexual harassment in the beginning of the movie, I actually was rather relieved to see him grow more supportive of Nina. That doesn’t excuse the fact that he was totally out of line and unprofessional for the majority of the movie though. Clearly Nina was not ready to be the black swan, and there were other dancers that were perfectly capable of doing so.
Growth vs. Rolling
The overall idea of this little girl trapped in a bubble going through painful growth into an artist is great. Strange though, does a girl have to sleep around in order to become an artist? Does a person have to try ecstasy to “loosen up?” It felt like the movie was saying, this is what she is missing to express the black swan. Honestly I didn’t feel like Nina had overcome her fears or inhibitions to become this powerful artist at the end of the movie. Throughout the movie she’s a helpless little girl who cries and claims she’s done all she can to be perfect. We see her driven to a brink of insanity but never see her actually grow as an artist. The movie seems to claim that only after having had a drink, tried some drugs, committed a crime could she put on a great performance. Quite a slap in the face to professional ballerinas.
To Be Fair
I suppose to be fair, the movie isn’t striving to show the professionalism of ballerinas. While there were some parts of the movie I felt were unnecessary, that’s not to say that the movie was bad. Yes this movie is a psychological thriller, and yes the movie will keep you on the edge throughout the entire film. It will really send shivers down your back and make you cringe at the dark gritty details. So it does deliver, just not in the way I had expected. In spite of it all, I watched it about four times over the weekend because it was so hauntingly provocative. It’s one of those movies that leaves you to sit and think about what everything means once it’s over.