Jennifer Homans (Dance Critic for The New Republic) posted a great piece about Black Swan today. I saw Black Swan myself way back in October at our 2010 Chicago International Film Festival & I really, really hated it. I hated it so much that I could barely sit in my seat.
Dumb me: I went in expecting a film about ballet, so when I told people about it afterwards, I always said: “I went in blind & I hated it, but if you go in expecting a horror movie, maybe you’ll like it.”
Indeed, once the reviews came out & audiences knew to expect a horror movie, box office revenue skyrocketed. As of today, Black Swan has an 88% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes & revenue stands at $95.9M (making it one of 2010’s biggest hits). Natalie Portman, with her cute little “baby bump,” appears to have a lock on the Best Actress Oscar, & women are supposed to be happy about the fact that “a female-oriented film” has captured the public imagination.
Ummm… not so fast! Here’s what Homans says (& I completely agree):
“For anyone who cares about the art of ballet, unfortunately, Black Swan is a crushing disappointment and a lost opportunity. It is a vision so drenched in lurid stereotypes and flamboyant clichés, so stripped of human possibility, so drunk with its own technique (mirrors!) and with violence and crass sex, that it leaves the viewer emotionally cold. Love, ambition, beauty, eroticism, and art are all reduced in Aronofsky’s overheated mind to the undeniable “ickyness” (as he puts it) of physical self-mutilation. Instead of opening a door, Aronofsky has locked us into a chilly and campy melodrama: a glamorous spectacle of self-immolation masquerading as art…
Black Swan does not portray what it is like to be a dancer; it portrays what it is like to be Darren Aronofsky. We know this from his past films, all of which show a taste for gratuitous violence and people caught in accelerating cycles of physical and psychological self-destruction.”
You Go, Girl!
Meanwhile, if you want to watch a beautiful film about ballet which really tries to get the dance world right, see The Company. Many male critics dissed The Company, & when director Robert Altman died almost none of them mentioned it, but I still think The Company is one of the best films he ever made. (Click HERE to read my interview with screenwriter Barbara Turner on FF2.)