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“A ballet dancer wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan – Princess Odette – but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.”
Oh… *that’s* what was happening? OK, makes sense. I’ve got nothing to add here. The plot is pretty simple, it has all the elements of an episode of Law and Order or a mini-movie on TV.
In my opinion the short straw was drawn by Mila Kunis in this movie. She did a good job, but it’s kind of hard to judge her as an actor after seeing her play characters in “That 70s Show” (oh yeah, I just went there, talk about flash backs) and “Family Guy” (she’s the voice of Meg). Her acting was slightly forced, like she’s still working to escape the image of her Jackie character. You weren’t sure throughout the movie if she was a good or bad character, but when she cursed it felt a little forced, like Shia Le Beouf in “I Robot”.
Portman did a great job, which is probably why she won the Oscar. Honestly though, has she EVER done a bad job? Other than “Star Wars” (which I blame on George Lucas) I don’t think she’s done a movie that didn’t get nominated for tons of acting awards (wasn’t “Star Wars” all tech nominations?). She doesn’t work as often as I’d like, but she does a good job. I think this character was a little too whiny though. That’s my one complaint. Her character is very stiff and rigid, but throughout the movie up until the end I don’t think her expression has a significant change~ she’s always got that same worried look. That may have been intentional, I don’t know, but it was a little stiff in my opinion.
I get that a lot of the movie is symbolic and whatever, but there were a lot of unnecessary shots that I think were made longer than they needed to be (namely a particularly memorable one with Winona Ryder anyone who has seen the movie will vividly remember). And especially early on in the movie I noticed the director favored hand-held cameras rather than mounted ones. Ok, that was my film-major-nerd-out. What that means is that he didn’t put the cameras on tracks or wheeled tri-pods which would make the picture really neat and steady, but he just gave them to the camera guys and said “walk”, so it’s really bouncy. I just thought I’d warn you, my father gets ill whenever he sees movies like that in theaters. But I don’t know if I was ignoring it or if it stopped later on, but the first shot with Portman walking through New York is like the cameraman is going through withdrawal~
This is where the points for the movie come in. When you step back and look at it the plot is too simple to make a good movie on it’s own, but the overall execution of the actors and effects and everything pulls it together and makes it…relatively memorable. Honestly the only thing that really stood out for me was Potman’s acting, but it was a good creepy movie horror buffs or thriller buffs will like. As the movie goes on it gets weirder and weirder, and there are a few shots where I think the director and writer were overreaching (like the digital one with the wings).
Ok… now for my confession. Some of you who have been with the site for a while know that I’m studying in South Korea right now, not at my home University in the States. I went to this movie with the other International students and some Korean friends. In Korean movie theaters they have mini posters or pamphlets about a movie, usually the size of a sheet of paper and magazine-quality printing (AKA- really good). These tell about the movie and give you something to take home. Why do I mention them? Because from the scene where she visits Ryder the second time (if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about) through the end I held that up to block my sight from watching the movie. Every time something really freaky happened my friend would grab my hand and scream, then tell me what the scary thing was, so I didn’t actually have to suffer through that (victory sign).
There is a huge metaphorical story running through the background of the movie that you can ignore and still get the full impact. Most of the movie is about Portman’s descent into madness. She starts to hallucinate things and people she’s never met, and beings acting stranger and stranger, which is where the horror elements come from. I think with Ryder’s scene in the kitchen (see it to know it) they went a little too far off base, but Mila Kunis’ final appearance was very well done.
I wouldn’t recommend this movie to a lot of people, only those I know enjoy the thriller/horror genre, but also the psychological one as well. I can honestly only think of a handful of people. But my mother is the chick-flick type, and she came back from seeing this a few weeks ago raving about how great it was, so you might like it no matter your particular preference.
Oh, and don’t see it with a parent or child. There are some REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY super awkward scenes that I think the director just put in to attract teenage boys and pervs. A lot of groping and such.