Monday, 7 February 2011
Honestly? It was fun but disappointing. Yes Natalie Portman puts in her best ever performance. It's better than Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, certainly. And you've got to be impressed by all those twirly things she does on her toes: fabulous really, for a woman of her age.
But, but, but....
Well for one thing, she's 28 but somehow comes across as older - maybe its the emaciated hyper pumped look, which is undeniably sexy yet somehow ageing. And yet the character she is playing is so girlie - all that pink, those cuddly toys - you think to yourself: surely she's supposed to be just 20 or 21 at tops. Portman's Nina is, after all, virginal - the perfect White Swan - who is in search of her darker inner self, her Black Swan. We all have a bad person lurking in us somewhere: a more sensual, materialistic version that we repress in our desire (go with me here) to be sublime/perfect/ideal. Repress the bad girl at your peril, the film tells us, it will Drive You Mad!
It was an enjoyable, fast paced two hours, which surprised me because it revolves around so few characters. The Mommy-daughter relationship is wonderfully creepy and yes, the nail scissors made me jump too. the performances were great and as for the photography, well at times it seemed a little too considered, a little too European art house, but it was beautiful.
But, but, but...
The problem with ballet films is that ballet isn't there to be filmed. It is only really impressive when performed by real ballet dancers and Portman - who is wonderfully athletic compared to mere mortals - came across as a lumpen, pale imitation of the real thing. As a result, instead of being transported by the dance you end up almost giggling at it. It just doesn't look right.
And then there is the sex. Perhaps this is where European and American audiences really differ. Well if Twilight is anything to go by anyway. You see, in Europe, we don't have 20-something virgins with hang ups about lesbianism. They died out thirty, forty years ago. In Europe I suspect we might be over that, which takes the power of the film and puts it through the mincer, frankly.
As to the end, yes, utterly ridiculous. Nonsensical.
By which I mean the very end. The all-in-her-head thing was well signposted (and a bit too obvious). But the very end, When She Dies, no, didn't get that at all. It left me thinking I'd just been taken for a ride.