Alex Blaze

Black Swan would be better without the plot

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 04, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Black Swan, Catholic church, marriage, Natalie Portman, review, scnee

The Catholic News Service put out a review of Natalie Portman's new movie Black Swan (rated "O" for "Morally Offensive"). natalie-portman-black-swan.jpgHere's a short plot summary (from IMDB):

When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

It doesn't sound like something I'll be seeing any time soon. Maybe the Catholic News Service could improve it?

Though Portman turns in a striking performance, teeter-tottering on the edge of sanity, Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin's script plays on the extremes of sexual repression and debauched license, ignoring the healthy middle ground of erotic love expressed within a committed marital relationship.

And maybe The Graduate would have been more exciting if Mrs. Robinson had remembered her wedding vows and decided to keep sex within the bounds of marriage. The movie would have been a lot shorter, at least.

Even Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice gets some implied pre-marital action. I think a 2010 movie about a Girl Gone Wild is going to have to have some too.


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Lynn Miller | January 4, 2011 12:31 PM

Its probably worth noting that the Catholic News Service is owned and operated by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (which is the formal organization representing all the Catholic bishops in the US.) As such, its movie reviews are often scrutinized for moral orthodoxy by conservatives.

In the past, many movie reviews have been found wanting and have generated some pressure on the USCCB and CNS to mend their ways. For example, the orignal review of Brokeback Mountain was favorable and not deemed morally offensive (which is what really enraged conservatives.)

I suspect that this particular review may reflect some yielding to that pressure. Gay or Lesbian themes really seem to excite (not in a good way) those on the Right.

Well, there is a really short lesbian sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

I think a strictly sexual interpretation is a little narrow-minded though. Without spoiling too much for anyone who wants to see the movie, I think it's a better interpretation to view the movie as a metaphor for performance in general: for a perfect performance, you need more than just technical mastery. You need to sacrifice yourself to the role. So Portman's repressed character breaking free of her (many and various) repressions is more a way for her to approach attaining the perfect black swan character than attaining sexual freedom.

Personally I find the various sexual assaults Vincent Cassel's character perpetrates during the movie more morally objectionable than premarital (lesbian) sex.

The movie was fun; but, man, did it wreck my nerves for the rest of the day.

Kunis was so hot though.

There was cheesiness in the movie, but I chose to ignore it and just go with the flow. I was rewarded with an emotional roller coaster ride that left me completely wrung out. In other words, I loved it! I love when a film can do that to me. I don't think it was a great movie, but it was quite an experience.

And yes, Mila Kunis is very, very hot.

It really was about art. Nina wants to be perfect. Thomas wants her to break through into passion. As a spectator, I always prefer the latter to the former. And this film was far from perfect. But it was very passionate.

Just do your best to ignore the cheese.

All I'm seeing is the cheese in the publicity materials. Something tells me I'll end up seeing this movie....