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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Black Swan: Movie Review

I saw this movie a few days ago and I came out saying that Natalie Portman had bagged best actress in every major awards show out there, and I was spot on for the Golden Globes at least. It will probably be my favourite film of 2011.

First off, I love psychological thrillers and I love Natalie Portman, so in the outset it looked promising. People, this movie is riveting. It is intense, you will be on the edge of your seat for the whole show. It is very much a thought provoking masterpiece.

I think what really effects the viewer is the recognition that there is a little bit of Nina (Natalie Portman's character) in every one of us, and that tendancy to push oneself too far and go over the edge is ever present, no matter how remotely. Nina takes perfectionism and self punishment to the extreme, punishing herself physically as a result of her mental torment. Being a perfectionist myself, I have the tendancy to beat myself up over perceived 'failures' and obviously while my behaviour is a lot less destructive than Nina's, on some level I can identify with her character which is what is so scary.

Portman portreys this character so completely, it is amazing. She really did a spectacular job of getting into character, which would have been challenging - playing such an intense and destructive character would have messed with her psyche. Heath Ledger couldn't cope with playing a psychopath (or at least, that's why some think he overdosed) but she excels. The director of the film is reported to have begged Portman to start eating when he saw the toll that intense ballet training and getting into character had taken on her body. Unfortunately, these ballet dancers really do get ultra skinny and Portman's transformation into a gaunt shadow of her former self made the character more authentic. Portman says "There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die. It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."

As well as being a treat for the mind, this movie is a treat for the eyes. The costumes and makeup are spectacular, and there is of course lots of professional ballet dancing which in itself is enjoyable to watch.

There are some very intense sex scenes in the movie, but unusual ones. The scenes I found most confronting were those of self masturbation, and the lesbian sex scene with Portman and Mila Kunis. The whole film is erotic from the get go- the dancing and plays with the human form, the charged atmosphere, the masochistic ballet company director...

Portman trained in ballet for a whole year prior to the commencement of filming. She started with 2 hours per day, and progressed to 5 hours per day + swimming. She also danced as a child, and has a degree in psychology, both of which would have helped her to understand the character. I think she really put her heart and soul into this character and it shows, so best of luck to her!

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