Wednesday, 26 January 2011
The Black Swan - a review of sorts
So, since it was C's birthday we thought we'd go and see a film, then have a meal. What film? Whatever sounded decent and was in the right place at the right time. This turned out to be the much-praised The Black Swan.
It certainly gets a lot of critical approval at iMDb. I should confess that there have been several times in the course of my life when I have felt a strong urge to walk out of a film and breathe the fresh air - and have in fact done so now and then - and had it not been C's birthday, I think I would have been out like a shot after about ten minutes. Nor, reader, did it get better for me after that.
To call the film an insult to the intelligence is to err on the side of charity. The story involves a brilliant - or so we are told - ballet dancer (Natalie Portman) who lives with her dominating, smother of a mad mother. Dancer is in line for leading role as The Swan in Swan Lake. The trouble is, as the director of the company tells her, marvellous as she would be as the virginal, in every way perfect, White Swan she utterly lacks the sinuous wickedness that might enable her to make the necessary switch to the predatory temptress that is Black Swan. Terrible crisis! Her sheltered life, her fear and frigidity (so we understand) means she is doomed to remain mummy's girl, because mummy - who is a failure - rather fancies keeping daughter as fellow failure at home.
I trust you can see where this is heading? It takes about ten minutes to work out on a particularly slow-thinking night. What the girl needs is sex and drugs and rock and roll. Fellow dancer and rival, Mila Kunis, is on hand to take a shot at persuading her to it, but the effort is so hard that poor Natalie Portman goes mad (mad you hear me? mad!!!) which just goes to show what lack of sex and drugs and rock and roll plus an overdose of mummy does to a gal. The simple trick she misses - though we don't miss it of course - is, hey, what you need is a good occasional fuck, preferably from an ignoramus. Or, far better, from the magnificent, faintly Byronic director, whose role in the ballet might just resemble the role of the director of the film.
Polanski's Repulsion (1965) worked on a similar idea but the girl there (Catherine Deneuve) was a cosmetics assistant rather than the more significant virgin princess in a world-famous corps de ballet. That was a good film. The sex angle was hinted at and quickly understood but it wasn't turned into a parable with gorblimey special effects. It was just the Deneuve character's (and her victims') bad luck, not a moral lesson in life.
There was also, some three years later, a piece of puffed-up pretension, Girl on a Motorcycle, with Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull, to which my teenage self was drawn because of the promised prospect of seeing Marianne naked for a brief second. But even then, reader, I knew the film was utter dross, with some French philosophe (possibly a take on Georges Bataille meeting D H Lawrence) making enigmatic remarks about the dark power of sex. At the end of the film Faithfull is having near orgasms on a motorbike when she crashes, splat. Now there's a lesson for you.
It is the Faithfull film that anyone should think of in contemplating this heap of spectacular banality masquerading as grand, self-conscious profundity. If you are happy with that you will not be disappointed, not for a second.
The meal was great.