Black Swan, a feast of unnecessary violence

The Oscars ceremony is almost here, and, after seeing Black Swan yesterday, I’m only one film – The Social Network, which I’ll probably see sometime after the Oscars, maybe once it comes out on DVD – short from completing my pre-Oscar preparations.

As for Black Swan… It’s definitely an intense movie. Really intense. My friend who said to me after seeing it a couple of months ago, “I’m not sure you’ll be able to handle this”, was absolutely right. Not a fan of bloody scenes featuring punching one’s own face with a nail file, slamming the door on someone’s fingers (lots of finger references, huh?), and hitting somebody with a piece of the mirror that was just broken with a human body, I had to turn away in more than one scene.

Was the violence worth it? Tough question. I’d say not really, because it was, for my taste, oftentimes “violence for violence’s sake”, which I’m not a fan of. I think much of the movie’s gloomy feel and scary atmosphere could have been achieved with just a couple of much less graphic tricks. The kind of violence that Black Swan is full of just makes my skin crawl, without necessarily creating the psychological effect.

Speaking of psychology though, I did think the movie did a great job of showing psychological background of the things that were happening – not because of the graphic violence, but because of the script (loved the storyline with Natalie Portman’s character’s mother who was a former though unsuccessful ballerina herself) and the actors’ performances.

And speaking of actors’ performances, I don’t agree with some reviews that say that Natalie Portman’s acting is “passive”. That’s what she is supposed to be – a passive uptight “good girl” struggling to embrace her “dark side” for a role of a lifetime, and getting lost in this struggle. So well deserved Oscar nomination for Natalie Portman; she should probably win that one. Mila Kunis’ acting was, I thought, maybe a little too loose for a ballerina, but, on the other hand, that’s what the script said. And I just discovered before the movie that Mila is a Jewish girl from Ukraine, which is exciting. Former USSR girl power!

Criticisms aside though, I did like Black Swan‘s vibrant psychological games, fresh subject of ballet, powerful actors performances, and the space for interpretation in the finale. The finale, however, might have been a bit too abrupt. I think it would be interesting if there were another short installment of the movie, not set in the theater, after the Swan Lake performance piece ends, which would tease minds a little more, giving more to think about so as to what the previous part meant. My main complaint, however, is still with the excessive violence. Other than that – great movie if you’re not sensitive and/or don’t mind something that would make your skin crawl.


About Allantoin

A Fierce Russian's Perspective is a blog about the world as seen by a Russian immigrant (yours truly).
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