Yesterday, my husband Will and I went to see the movie Black Swan, a ballet thriller that is one of this year’s big Oscar condenders. For psychological horror, I feel the movie works. It made me gasp out loud, although I’m easy for movie directors to manipulate and am usually the first to scream in a theatre. Black Swan has plenty of creepiness, enhanced by mood music; lots of blood and ugly, damaged ballet feet; twists that make you wonder what is real and what the heroine, Nina, has imagined.
My main problem with Black Swan was that the theme struck me as heavy handed. The ballet director tells Nina she is technically perfect and ideal for the role of the white (good, virginal) swan, but needs to lose control and explore her dark side to dance the black (evil, sexy) swan, and so achieve overall perfection, which is all that matters in the ballet world. Rather than feel engaged with characters and a story that developed this theme, I felt the characters and story were dancing to the message. At the end, I thought fine theme and entertainment, but who cares?
For Oscar contending movies, I far preferred The Social Network, a movie with a message, real characters and heart.