Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Black Swan

Remember back in the 60s when little girls wanted to be ballerinas? Then in the 70s it was actresses, 80s pop stars, models in the 90s and now sadly they all want to be Wags. Well the movie, Black Swan might bring ballerinas into fashion judging by the response it has received at various film festivals. Nina played by Natalie Portman is a repressed ballet dancer who has spent the last good few years in the shadows of Beth played by Winona Ryder at one of New York's prestigious ballet companies. Mollycoddled by her mother played by Barbara Hershey (who is a former ballet dancer) she finds it hard to let go and express herself on and off the stage. Ballet director, Thomas played by Vincent Cassell decides her time has come and gives Nina the lead role in Swan Lake much to Nina's delight. She begins to celebrate with her mother as she feels that she has finally arrived, sadly there are two things standing in Nina's way. Lily played by Mila Kunis whose feisty personality and dazzling dance skills proves to be more than a match for Nina and the second issue is Nina herself. As talented and committed as she is Nina seems unable to cope with pressure and succumbs to self harming and bulimia when things get rocky. Matters take a turn for the worse when Nina let's her neurosis get the better of her and finds herself not just struggling to hold onto her coveted role as Swan Lake but to her sanity as well.
The last time I saw Natalie Portman in a film was in her debut role in Leon and she blew me away. Well she is just as wonderful in this film, Natalie is simply compelling to watch as the fragile Nina. Newcomer, Mila Kunis is also great as well but this is really Natalie's film. She plays the lead with just  enough gusto and really nails the vulnerability and dark side of the character. Winona is great as the fallen ballerina but the character of Beth did seem rather similar to her own life story. I saw a preview of this film at the London Film Festival and it immediately went on my 'to watch list' and I am glad to say that it did not disappoint. No surprise that it has received Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Some of the scenes are a bit murky and if you are squeamish like I am you might want to cover your eyes during parts of it. At last we have a realistic portrayal about what it is really like to be a ballet dancer. It is not all sweetness and light and ballet dancers are under extreme pressure to maintain their stick like figure, they have to be under a certain height and they have awful feet from spending all their time walking on their toes. Now all I want to see is one about ice skaters and that will make me really happy.
Another theme that has come out of this riveting film is the fashion, I could not help but admire the cool assemble that the women wore during training such as lycra cardigans, over the knee leg warmers, sophisticated leotards along with the accustomed hair pulled back in a top knot. The costumes the dancers wore on stage were simply stunning; tutus are in right now, Carrie wore a few in Sex and the City and Nicole Richie wore a huge one for her wedding dress. The meshing of feathers and beads spells absolute glamour and Natalie and Esq looked amazing on screen in their outfits. Check out this blog post that the lovely Reena from Fashion Daydreams wrote about the inspiration of ballet on fashion. It is a corker.

Black Swan is out now in the US and is released on 21 January in the UK.

8 cool comments:

Kwana said...

I saw this and thought it was one of the best and most disturbing films of the year. Was even more creeped out when I found out parts were filmed where my daughter dances. Now I'm scared to go backstage. Yikes!
Great movie though.

Moni @ CL Journal said...

I saw this movie and I loved it! I kept saying that there was something about Mila Kunis voice that sounded a bit familiar. Then I realized, she's the voice of Meg Griffin in Family Guy on Fox.

Hope this gets noticed at the Oscars... said...

Great review, I still haven't seen it yet but its on my list.

However, a slap on the wrist for you - last time you saw NP was in Leon? And you volunteer this? Lol.

You have to check her out in Closer with Julia Roberts, Clive Owen and Jude Law

Sankofa said...

Great review. You've made me really want to see this now. Just a little point though: Mila Kunis can hardly be described as a "newcomer". She's been in the public eye for years now as a cast member of 'That 70s Show', 'Family Guy', and various other films.

Lola said...

I cannot wait to see this!!

Hannah said...

Love Natalie Portman! So excited to see Black Swan xx

Anonymous said...

I thought Natalie Portman was great. But, the movie started out real slow with lots of scenes of Natalie walking in the hallways and that sort of thing. Then in the end with all the fantasy--I did not get dragged into it--possibly because the start went so slowly. But--Portman was great

Ondo Lady said...

Kwana - I agree it is one of the best films of the year.

Moni @ CL Journal - I loved it too - Sorry I did see Closer but did not get it at all. You really need to see this film as NP is amazing in it, I am not a true fan and will be checking out her new film, Friends with Benefits

Sankofa - Ok I got ya but I have never seen Family Guy, I am not sure if we get it in the UK.

Lola - Go and see it, it is fab!

Hannah - Nataiie is great isn't she? She is kind of regale.

Anonymous - Yes there were lots of scenes of her walking down corridors but that added to the drama and a lot of horror movies in the 70s used scenes like that to add to the tension.