Friday, February 11, 2011

Black Swan

So you all MUST have heard of this film by now!  I went to see it with my girlies last night and it blew me away.  We all stood outside the cinema afterwards talking about it and I really can't remember the last time a film made that much of an impact on me.  Without ruining it for anyone who hasn't yet seen the movie, the plot is basically this:

It's a psychological thriller about a ballet dancer who 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 Odette's evil sister, Odile, the Black Swan.

The story was inspired by a Dostoevsky poem 'The Double: A Petersburg Poem' which is about a man whose life is on the verge of destruction due to the sudden appearance of a double of himself.  The man is a government clerk who goes mad, obsessed by the idea that a fellow clerk has stolen, literally in every sense of the word, his identity.  The director wanted to work this story into the incredibly controlled, competitive and artistic world of ballet. 

Everything about the film was intense and beautiful.  The cinematography was spot on, the immense tension was sustained throughout the whole film and the costume design is just exquisite!  Natalie Portman was brilliant in the lead role and it's obvious from her performance that she has trained extremely hard to perfect the body and poise of a ballerina.  Apparently it took 6 months for Natalie and Mila Kunis to lose 20lbs from their already slim physiques and to attain the right body type and muscle tone of professional ballet dancers.  Obviously they both had body doubles for some of the more demanding wide shots where they have to be en pointe (on the tips of their toes) for a long time.  I have to say that it wasn't pleasant (and painful at times) to see how skinny Natalie had become but, I guess she did what she had to do for the role.

The Black and White Swan costumes were a creative collaboration between Rodarte, Amy Westcott and the director, Darren Aronofsky.  However there has been alot of controversy surrounding the fact that Amy Westcott has been all but forgotten when it comes to giving credit in the press.  How hacked off would you be if you were a massive influence in the process of creating these beautiful costumes and you didn't get any credit for it?!

The ballerina costumes had a real baroque feel to them and although they have received critisicm for not including straps, as swan lake ballerinas would wear purely for function, I think art overtook practicality on this one.  Natalie Portman's makeup and hair looked AMAZING when she played the White Swan!   

I totally fell in love with the white, floor-length gown Natalie wore in the film (which I'm assuming was Rodarte?).  Here is the initial sketch...

And here is the gown on screen...uhhhh, so beautiful!!! It would make an incredible wedding dress!

So my overall thoughts on this film is that it was as much about fashion as it was about mental illness and instability.  BUT, don't think that the fashion is the main star of the just decorated the background of what was altogether a brilliantly twisted and unpredictable story.  There were quite a few points in this film where I literally jumped out of my chair.  But on a flip side, there are a few genuinely funny points too.  Natalie's character, Nina, wants so much to be perfect, disciplined and in control that it takes over her whole world.  She's so obsessed with her Swan Lake character that she eventually becomes just that.  She pushes her body and mind to the brink in a quest for ultimate perfection in her art.

I give this film a 9 out of 10!  It's not just a film for girls, I really do think that guys would like this movie too (and if they still aren't keen, just let them know about the girl-on-girl scene between Natalie and Mila!ha ha).

Have you seen this movie yet? What were your thoughts?

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