Swan sinks



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I agree 100% with your review: profounding boring. So superficial in its pseudo-psychological "depth". Aronofsky is just another Hollywood con-man flogging cheap entertainment under the guise of "art". Absolute crap.

Maurice T Frank more than 10 years ago

Where is the ballet in a film about ballet?

Experts have long recognized that in the film "the greatest effects are almost always obtained by 'acting' as little as possible" [Pirandello]. What matters for the film primarily is that the actor represents herself to the public before the camera, rather than representing someone else. In filmmaking the reflected image is separable and transportable from the film studio to the film viewer, of which the screen actor is not always aware as is her theatre colleague performing in front of her audience. And Portman is performing for the camera.

With all my adoration for Portman I could swear this was the case. Yes, she is stunning, yes she is so fragile, petite, she looks like a ballerina, and she looks like a white swan in need of warm cuddle. But no, she is not a ballet-dancer (though she was a dancer since the age of four) and she does not make me believe that she is. She looks like she struggles to partake in her rehearsals with the director as a non-ballerina, and the element of this fakeness is sinking the entire performance. She does not struggle to convey an oh-so-needed seductive message, which seems to be the only idea her director Thomas is fixated on; she simply struggles to look like she is a prima ballerina of an esteemed New York City ballet company. That is why it is hard to blame Aronofsky for using this similarity of “struggles” because he applies it splendidly. I can imagine thousands of viewers swallowing pleasurably his replacement of a true ballerina’s pain with Portman’s portrayal of her struggle to act like one - and she is a psychologist after all. Photography blows away all negative thoughts about the film, about its low points and I melt in close-ups of the unexpected masturbation scene. My head was screaming in dismay about the simplicity of the idea, but my senses were touched deeply.

In a nutshell I can compare my experience of watching the film with the blowing on a candle trying to kill its blaze. And I felt like a candle: flickering in luminosity expecting the release of the well-advertised film about ballet, my favourite type of performing art; then suddenly Portman blows on my fire with her almost ostentatious pain that it almost collapses, but it picks up again as the blow is still not too strong and I am carried away with striking blurrings of the cinematography, however the second blow comes from understanding that the film explores the long abused idea of obsession and devotion to only one thing in artistic life as righteously pointed our by Änne Troester – yes it is true, yes it is ruthless; we are aware of it, so are they – and my light finally dies.

To watch a real film about real ballerina pain we need to refer to either documentaries by Frederick Wiseman or to a film made in Post-Soviet Russia “And Little Ghosts Dance” (1991) by Korotkov/Reznikov about a class of ballerinas on their final year at St Petersburg’s Choreographic Institute.

LB407[at]cam.ac.uk more than 10 years ago

no way

could I get past the simplistic (and sexist) psychology that was behind the whole setup. And I'm usually a pretty easy mark, I'd think, not in the habit of looking for things to criticize. I love to love films ... Anyway, glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the feedback!

Änne Troester more than 10 years ago

...that depends on the movie..

I wrote this only to underline the great difference to my opinion of that film. If i would really imply somebody hasn't watched a movie, I would write it clear.

H. more than 10 years ago

Movies can do lots of things...

Yes, I may disagree, but in no way could I say that someone I disagree with hasn't REALLY watched the film. Either way, to each their own.

Walter Crasshole more than 10 years ago


Well, obviously you have seen this movie and yet it seems to me, you haven't.
Different opinions are normal but your review is devastating and given the fact i really like this movie it's hard to read something like that.

Yes of course, if you are searching long enough you will find aspects wich you can criticize
rightly. But like Walter Crasshole wrote before, it riveted me too. For me Nina's pain was nearly concrete. And when a movie could that to me, what else should a movie do?

H. more than 10 years ago

With all do respect to our film editor...

I just have to disagree. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. And riveted. But I respect your point of view. And the damn good writing.

Walter Crasshole more than 10 years ago

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