Black Swan: A Sharp Wing to the Face

Posted on March 24, 2011 by


Black Swan in a Sentence: Extremely visceral and disorienting, like if a tearful Snow White sliced her own forearms with tin can tops while the Seven Dwarfs watched and whistled  “Heigh Ho.”

Why I Almost Grew Black Wings: The pacing is highly innovative. Darren Aronofsky masterfully uses the first hour to screw with your senses, but only slightly.

An odd whisper here. A peculiar hallucination there. Highly competitive ballerinas glaring at each other like rabid fighting cocks everywhere.

And just when you think it’s slowing down to the point of cinematic eject button time, Natalie Portman starts doing majorly non-Natalie Portman things. Lindsay Lohan on a Tuesday night type things, such as ecstasy pills, peeling back the skin of one of her fingers, and a scene I’ll simply entitle, “How to Go All the Way with Yourself in 3 Easy Steps,” which in itself has completely neutered my image of sweet little Natalie.

And it only gets more devastatingly discombobulating from there. Black Swan’s heavy score—it makes the tubas from Inception seem like flute solos—only adds to the insanity.

By the time the credits rolled I was truly affected, my outlook on life severely dislodged for the first time since I learned R2-D2 was powered by a British midget who claims that C3PO is a real jackass.

What Made Me Want To Clip Those Wings: With all apologies to the Academy that bestowed 5 Oscar Nominations upon it, I just didn’t think the film was spectacular.

While I was impressed with how quickly the director reeled me back in from the brink of terminal boredom, I’m not exactly pleased that I was taken there in the first place.

Imagine if Donnie Darko or The Shining took over an hour to get to anything truly creepy?

We’d rail about how slow the films were. But since Aronofsky has been labeled a genius because of Pi, which I hated, I think he gets a pass on most criticisms we’d quickly bestow on other filmmakers.

Think of it this way—how much crap did people tolerate from Christina Aguilera after Genie in a Bottle, or M. Night Shyamalan after Sixth Sense & Signs? (Have you heard Aguilera’s “Dirty,” or seen Shammy’s The Village? If you haven’t then here’s another comparison—Ricky Martin’s “Livin La Vida Loca,” and then everything else he’s ever done, ever.)

The answer is not much. Aguilera’s last album bombed worse than Carl Lewis at the New Jersey Nets.

Also, I found Portman’s acting to be serviceable enough, but not Oscar worthy. Most puppy dogs can act nervous and introverted if you allow them to soak in a cold December rain, yet I don’t see any Yorkies burying gold statues in their backyards.

Black Swan’s Swan Song: If you’re looking to get knocked out of your comfort zone, and I mean like Sarah Palin attending a PETA rally knocked out, go turn off the lights and force yourself to remain in your seat for the full 1:47.

3.5 Black Feathers Out of 5.

Similar To: Donnie Darko, American Psycho

Not Similar To: The Sound of Music, Care Bears: The Movie, Die Hard, P.S. I Love You.

Rating: R

Runtime: 107 min.