Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Swan: A Review

The saddest thing is that this could have been a really good movie. The story, the directing, the photography, the supporting cast were very impressive. The beautiful music obviously didn't hurt. This could have been a powerful work that pondered issues of artistic awakening and the nature of creativity, a Künstlerroman in the true meaning of the word. This could have really worked. Could have - if it weren't for the imponderable decision to cast the Queen of Vapid, a.k.a. Natalie Portman, in the leading role.
For some incomprehensible reason, Portman is in vogue right now. Every other movie out there is rendered horrible by her insipid presence and annoying lisp. Portman has two facial expressions in her arsenal: blank face with her mouth closed and blank face with her mouth half-open. Every single emotion is conveyed by either mouth closed or mouth half-open. I don't know how she manages to keep her facial muscles in such a rigid state at all times: Botox? facial paralysis? natural vacuousness? Whatever it is, this peculiarity incapacitates her completely as an actress. She looks down, sees a shard of glass sticking out of her belly, mouth half-opens, a blank stare: what on Earth is she thinking? Good? Bad? Fun? Painful? Something? Anything?

The entire experience of watching Black Swan is poisoned by the need to guess what emotions Portman's character is supposed to be conveying. Trying to deduce anything from her frozen face and vapid stare is beyond painful. The scenes where Portman appears against Mila Kunis make her look even more pathetic. Kunis is no actress of the century but at least there is some acting capacity there (Ukrainians rule!). Kunis simply kills Portman in every single scene.

An alternative reading of the film is that Portman's character is supposed to be so overworked and exhausted by starvation and endless purging that she has no energy to experience, let alone express, any emotion. I wish I had been informed of this interpretation before I watched the movie. Then, I might have avoided the constant and fatiguing attempts to guess the character's feelings and intentions. I still believe, however, that the truth here is that Portman is simply devoid of any acting talent whatsoever.


eric said...

I haven't seen this movie (and probably won't), but my guess is that Portman got so good at playing Queen Amidala in those dumb Star Wars prequels, that she just decided to do that character in every flick she's done since!

fairykarma said...

You say you like numbers. Haha.
I think you just antagonized 83.04% of the North American NerdHipstersphere. Strangely, instead of not coming back they will keep reading your blog just to remind themselves of how much they dislike your ideas.

The Internet is such a funny place.

Clarissa said...

I like my fellow nerds. :-) What could I have possibly said to antagonize them in this particular review?

fairykarma said...

Understandably. Nerds have a thing for young (good looking) famous actors and actresses who show traces of intelligence in their personal lives and strong moral compasses. Portman's main clincher for them is she is a successful actress who also has a degree from Harvard. James Franco is another one. Successful actor, degrees from UCLA and NYU, currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Yale....while filming.

Clarissa said...

Bush Jr. had degrees from both Harvard and Yale. Big whoop. Is it any secret for anybody that Ivies hand out those degrees to celebrities for promotional purposes?

In any case, Portman has zero talent as an actress. Besides, she promotes this extremely regressive kind of femininity that is an insult to every progressively-minded person. Every woman she plays is a lisping childish idiot. Brrrr!

Anonymous said...

How does Natalie Portman promote the "regressive kind of femininity"? I had always seen her to be such an educated elegant woman who plays strong female roles in her movies

Clarissa said...

The most recent movies with her I've seen with her are Black Swan and Brothers. In both these movies, she plays a lisping, infantile woman who is an empty vehicle for whatever any man wants to fill her with.

I also saw a preview of her new movie yesterday (called something like No Strings Attached), and there again she seems to play a character who is a spoiled immature brat.

Infantilization of adult women is one of the most common and powerful tools of patriarchy.