Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Black Swan

Now that the fuss about BLACK SWAN has died down a bit (friends of mine could talk about nothing else for weeks) and it certainly was a vivid exhilarating experience when watching it and for a day or two afterwards, but – like THE KING’S SPEECH – seems curiously forgettable now. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky and stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey & Winona Ryder, and Portman certainly deserved all the acclaim and her best actress award. But my title for it could be SHOWGIRL’S REPULSION AT RED SHOES!

Nina Sayers (Portman) is committed to her art as a ballet dancer and lives behind locked doors with her over-protective mother (Hershey), herself a one time dancer. When Nina`s ballet company announce that a production of Tchaikovsky`s Swan Lake is seeking a new prima ballerina to play the Swan Queen, Nina pushes herself still further to land the role. But with the role comes more pressures. Her instructor, Thomas (Cassell) urges her to explore the darker passions within her so as to nail the Black Swan part of the role as her mother becomes even more over-bearing and a new arrival to the production, Lily (Kunis), pushes her fragile state of mind to the limit. Perhaps more worrying is that Nina appears to have a doppelgänger lurking within her enclosed world… as she becomes attracted to her real or imagined rival. It would seem that its creators must have studied Polanski’s REPULSION in detail as so many details are here, even that heavily bolted door to the apartment which is Nina’s refuge, and her fantasies and fragile state of mind. Then there is the glitz and exposed flesh of SHOWGIRLS welded to the dedication to one’s art as set out in Michael Powell’s THE RED SHOES with that other obsessed ballerina …

So many sequences we watch turn out to be fantasies so one hardly knows what is real by the climax, and that sequence as the Back Swan takes over with the feathers sprouting is indeed mesmerising, but will it all bear repeated viewing? Time will tell. Nina as a character is hard to feel any sympathy for as she pushes herself to the limit. Also, does the plot really add up? All great thrillers or horror stories have to have a basis in reality. One cannot say too much about the climax as one does not want to spoil it for those who have yet to see it, but it just does not make sense, even if it is vivid cinema. So it is camp horror or serious psychological drama? It hasn't though stayed with me like ANOTHER YEAR or I AM LOVE or UNCLE BOONMEE... or those discoveries I have enthused about like LA LOI or THAT MAN FROM RIO or THE SOUND BARRIER!

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