Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Black Pit of Mental Illness... er Swan

Phew, let me take a breath for a sec.

That is one claustrophobic movie!

Endless smothering close-ups and from-behind tracking shots (Aronofsky loves these shots and used them to great effect in The Wrestler as well) and mirrors and reflections and non-stop black and white art direction and a feeling of inevitably falling off the edge and oh the anguish.

Let's see, how many mental illnesses did you catch?  I saw some bulemia, cutting, boundry issues with ma, a little OCD perhaps, some good ol' sexual repression and a huge whopping dose of psychosis and schizophrenia.  I sense a drinking game in the making!

It's kinda exhausting to have to see through someone's eyes when they're at complete frayed ends.

The last movie that was this psychically taxing was The Machinist.  What, you never saw The Machinist  You mean you never saw Christian Bale's attempt at bulemic method acting?
Anywho, that's another story for another day - suffice it to say that I hope both Bale and Portman got to go on nice long vacations in the warm sun and drink themselves silly and stuff themselves with chimichangas or somethin' after having finished these taxing movies.

As for The Black Swan, it is indeed a masterful ride, and between this movie and The Wrestler, Aronofsky proves he's got the chops to go from a heartfelt verité character study to a tightly controlled thriller.  And Natalie Portman is a shoe-in for an Oscar nod as she carries the entire burden of the film on her oh-so-fragile shoulders.


My only qualms with the movie are with its screenplay.  It's fairly obvious from the getgo that Portman's character has some real mental issues and therefore the viewer never really walks that tightrope of "is it reality, or is it in her head" that is so crucial to films like this.  Check out Rosemary's Baby or Jacob's Ladder if you want to see it done right.  I also would have like to have seen the movie be much braver and push even further into surreal territory a la Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive.  Or perhaps the relationship between Portman and her mother could have exploded into further revelations and madness.  To me, it just seemed like the movie was a one-note melody.

Ooof - anyway... time to cleanse the palate with something light and breezy.  Oh, I don't know, something like...
 Oh yeah - much better.  No mental anguish there...


  1. good review... I concur
    I liked the fact that you brought up the machinist, jacob's ladder, and rosemary's baby...
    I was just watching that movie the last exorcism like 2 days ago and thinking "man I'd rather be watching rosemary's baby" lol (the movie sucked by the way don't watch it. idk why RT gave it such a good rating)
    anyway... yeah swan was pretty good. definitely not aronofsky's best, but pretty good