Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Black is black: Yesterday I saw the film “Black Swan.” I wrote a review which appears in IMDb. “Black Swan” presents, I think, a modern more updated definition of film noir (black or dark film) that existed in the 1940’s and 50’s. It is, indeed, a psychologically dark film as it attempts to recreate the ballet Swan Lake using Natalie Portman as the film’s Swan queen. Blood, psychological torment, human cruelty and sexual perversion are its emphasis. If that makes you doubtful you want to see the film I do not blame you. I wondered why I made the effort.

I do not mind if I have to go to some lengths to sift through a film and analyze its nuances but this one was too much for my psyche to absorb. When I read theater of the absurd authors such as Pirandello “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” or see a film based on the Edward Albee book "Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf" I can appreciate its absurdity, its torturous message of life’s difficulty and even the extreme pathology of relationships at its core but at some point if the content gives me nothing else but a headache, I stop and ask why did I inflict this upon myself. Alright already I get the point!

I do not like to be forced to analyze a film to death so that every word and every scene needs interpretation. In this film I kept asking what is reality, what is fantasy and what is simply a psychotic break. Is the woman insane, is the world around her insane or both? There were too many unknowns. I needed a film analyzer to sit next to me to explain the action and/or the symbolism of each scene.

Some loved this movie and see brilliance in it. That may be so but it was much too enigmatic for me to waste my energy attempting to decipher it. Moreover, the rather graphic sex, utterly ugly bloody hard-to-fathom violence, allusions to maternal lesbian incest and other perversions including drug use made me uncomfortable. Watching the minutiae of it was, I thought, unnecessary and disconcerting. There were enough squirmy moments to make me turn my head and look away and ask why a film maker has to show such graphic sexual detail and unhinged violence. I believe there are boundaries one should not cross. I do not want to see some things in living color because, in my opinion, it contributes to the crudity of our culture. I think the illusion of a sexual encounter is often times more erotic than its body machinations which leave nothing to the imagination.

Having said all of that the film does show the complexity of ballet and its all encompassing art form to which some devote their entire life. If Natalie Portman did the dancing herself she is, indeed, a very good dancer. She is also an excellent actress. The part itself demanded hefty talent and she showed she had that and more. The performance often was riveting but the disgusting violent nature of the script, its graphic sexuality and twisted psychological content makes me give it a thumbs down. I loath fluff films too BUT I do not want utterly psycho-pathological, difficult-to-analyze and bloody ones either. I rather watch the swan boats on Boston Common in the spring instead!

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