I saw Black Swan yesterday, the latest Natalie Portman movie. Although I know she has her share of haters, I've liked Portman ever since The Professional, and still had little hearts popping around my head watching her in the Star Wars prequels. (Everything else in the Star Wars prequels had the opposite of hearts popping around my head. Turds, I guess? That's the opposite, right? Also, I would like to point out that I was a child when I was watching this fellow child actor in movies, just so I don't sound like a pedo-nightmare.) Also, Darren Aronofsky! I have enjoyed his other entertainingly-presented nightmare rides of the human condition in the past! And when it's released in December, you know they are baiting the Acadamy award rod and reel with a big old wiggly worm of SERIOUS CINEMA.
So first off, let me ask you a question: would you take your mom to this movie? I ask because this movie theater was 25% sons and mothers. Now I get that you may have a totally "cool mom" who likes Vampire Weekend ever since she heard them in a car commercial. But would you sit in a theater, shoveling popcorn in your face while Natalie Portman gets repeatedly finger banged by everyone under the sun? Uh, did anyone read a summery of this movie before they just jumped on Fandango? I guess they could have only read the first sentence. "Black Swan is the story of a ballerina...OK GREAT, MOM WE'RE GONNA SEE THE BALLERINA MOVIE, OKAY?"
Portman starts off the movie as a ballet company dancer living with her mother in New York. They are ballet fanciers, to put it mildly. Have you ever been in a person's house who say, likes elephants? The rug is embroidered with elephants, and there are a million porcelain elephants on every level surface, and a giant Babar doll on the couch? Imagine that, but with toe shoes. "You sure seem to love the ballet!" You would say, inching towards the door.
Portmans mom is basically the stepmother from any Disney animated movie, who is cold and controlling and crazy. I've heard people say that they didn't like Portman's character, that she was too cold and bitchy. Uh, well, if you lived with a hell-beast stage mom who made you eat tutus for dinner (before you threw them up!), you might be a little icy too. Regardless, we see that Portman is a real work horse, and that her feet are disgusting, and what she wants most: to play the duel White Swan/Black Swan role in Swan Lake.
As luck would have it, Winona Ryder, the star of everything in the ballet, gets fired for being in her late 30's (and therefore gross). Now it's our girl Natalie in the leading role! But while her director thinks she can dance the precise, stick-up-the-butt moves of the white swan, he doubts her ability to pull off the wild, untamed dance of the black swan. (White Swans be dancin' like this: dee-dee-dee-dee! But Black Swans, they be all dancing like this: bah-bah-boom-boom!) Thus begins the pattern of the movie: people are unbelievably mean to Portman, Portman freaks out in a manner that may or may not be in her own imagination. Her mom literally locks her in the house when she isn't at rehearsal, her fellow dancers are the brat brigade, and the director of the ballet is not hesitant to employ the Don Draper method of sticking his fingers in women until his gets professional results. She also has a competitor, in the form of a hot rebel dancer. In the form of a hot rebel dancer who WEARS BLACK AND NATALIE PORTMAN WEARS WHITE NUDGE NUDGE!
Honestly, this movie is over dramatic and the symbolism is overt, but in the best way possible. Like a Japanese horror comic, with the same kind of haunted house jolts, and pretty girls with blood on them. Cool! I am never sending my daughter to ballet lessons, as ballet is apparently a kind of nightmarish body self-hatred camp for future and present psychopaths. If I wanted that, I would just have her watch (INSERT UNDER-FIRE TELEVISION SHOW POPULAR WITH TWEENS FOR SOCIAL COMMENTARY PURPOSES)!