Black Swan

Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel; Music: Clint Mansel; Direction: Darren Arnofsky

BlackSwan is an interesting film. And that’s just that, and nothing more. It has aninteresting premise and a very clever script that makes the viewer conscious thatit is being clever. Unfortunately, all that cleverness couldn’t hide the factthat the film is painfully predictable. The only plot revelation in the film becomesvery clear to the viewer in the first two reels. And it is supposed to be atwist in the very end of the film, and to make you gasp in shock, only ends upmaking you weary. The rest of the film simply goes through the motion ofdelaying the end ‘revelation’ as much as possible.

Nina,Natalie Portman, wants to become a successful swan queen in the ballet SwanLake and has a mandate to do the white and black swans, the good and evil. Oncethis is established, she is now surrounded by the usual suspects. Thetyrannical but brilliant opera director, the concerned but domineering mother,the rival dancer who is sexy and more sensuous, the yesteryear’s swan queen whohates the director for retiring her and now you know the drill. Nina isterrified that she is going to fail on the stage and the director only makes itworse by constantly reminding her of how stiff she is, how her dance lacks therequired sensuality, how terrified she is (as if Nina or the audience haven’trealised it by the end of the first feel.) The rival dancer, Lily, is obviouslysensual, warm, relaxed and performs the dance routine with the ease of aseasoned courtesan. And Nina is insecure. If I were the director, I wouldn’twaste my time on Nina and would have cast Lily straight away. Her mother isdomineering and doesn’t help matters by constantly reminding Nina of thetravails of failure. There is no explanation of why Nina is tolerating hermother, worse still, at 23, why she should still live with her.

Andwhoever thought Natalie Portman deserves Oscar for this performance? Whenconcerned, she looks like she’s suffering from migraine. When dancing she istruly stiff. It might be a natural performance, the one that the role required.Unfortunately even in the climactic, and mandatory, performance on the stagewhere she is supposed to be at her best, she isn’t any better. And her blackswan routine is scary whilst it is supposed to be dark and seductive. I wouldhave considered a supporting actress nomination for Lily for aptly givingmigraines to Nina or the mother for being disgusting and reprehensiblymelancholic, again, aptly required by the role.

Theend is neither unexpected nor convincing. Black Swan works neither like ahorror nor a psychological thriller. If anything, it works like what RogerEbert termed it. In his review, Ebert called it melodrama. That’s actually a fourletter word in India. Melodrama indeed.