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Monday, 14 February 2011

Black Swan

Um... Wow. So, I've got my breath back (which I held for most of the movie) and am just about ready to write my review of Black Swan when something hits me: It's left me completely and utterly speechless, a state I rarely find myself in. I'll do my best to purr through as neat a review as possible, but you will have to forgive me if my words become jumbled and my point lost.

A few myths to burst first, though. This is not - as many have said - an outstanding movie, as movies go. It often plays like a strange sub-budget horror, sometimes like a low-budget drama and sometimes like looking through the window at a dance class. Black Swan has been over-hyped.

No, not "over-hyped", mis-hyped. What's amazing about this film is not the quality of the cinematography (although it is top-notch), or the talent of the actors (although, again, hard to fault) or even the outstanding score that drags every last ounce of nerve from your body without ever letting you know it's doing so. What blew my mind about this film is how it feels.

Black Swan - and indeed Natalie Portman, especially - unnerved me in such a way that I honestly didn't know what I thought of it, even at the end. Even now! I can't tell you it's a marvellous piece of modern film-making; it might be, but I don't know! I have been left breathless. Call this what you will - psychological thriller, study in obsession, lesbian-horn-fest with ballet - one thing it definitely is is dangerous.

None of the characters are very nice people, not even our hero. None of the action takes place quite in "our world", but then again there is nothing supernatural about this movie. 

And the men's chants of "but there are lesbians in it, so it must be worth a look" are also drowned out by the sheer classiness of this picture. What sexual - or, I should say, sensual - scenes there are in this movie feel required and uncomfortable in equal measure - not a bad thing in any way. 

It's not a happy film, although there isn't really a "sadness" to it either. All in all it leaves you feeling - if anything - without any feeling at all. Literally. Unable to process what you've seen, or even move! It is one of the few films I have ever seen that have left me utterly without comment, in a good way. It gets under your skin and drags all of those prickly feelings right to the surface. If you want to know more, watch it. Because it's the only way you'll know what I mean.

I really didn't fancy this movie at all. But I cannot tell you just how special it is. Good? Very. Great? Maybe. Memorable? Definitely. And do you know what? It could be the most interesting piece of cinema I've seen in many years. And one more thing; Ballet is beautiful. Very, very beautiful.