Black Swan

Black Swan. This was ultimately a bit disappointing. Great performances from Portman, Cassel, et al. Once I got used to it, I liked the use of the up-close, claustrophobic, over-the-shoulder stalker cam. A lot of the camerawork struck me as pretty impressive. Great moments in cramped interiors and the rhapsodic, choreographed dances. There’s also the nice bonus that the movie draws from a kickass soundtrack that’s long been one of my favorites.

The trouble with this movie is that once you go the fantasy/hallucination/supernatural route, it’s very, very hard to do it in a fresh way. This is how we end up repeating clichés like mysterious bleeding, reflections in the mirror moving without the character moving, painted portraits coming to life, mysterious whispers of sound, the epileptic-ecstatic flashing lights drugged-up dance club scene, sightings of people who look like certain people but actually aren’t when you get up close, etc. I loved seeing the strain of dancers seeking physical perfection; the consumptive effects of artistic striving; and the psycho-sexual power games among family, rivals, mentors. That was mostly excellent. My groans started with how these things were visually manifested on-screen–it seems like a pile-on. I think it would have been a more engaging film without the fantasy.