Film/TV Dec 9, 2010 at 4:00 am

Bitches, Ballet, and the Birdbrained Ending of Black Swan

Spoiler alert: Just a lady in a bird suit. Niko Travernise


all wanna know is this was mila kunis hot in the sex scenes? its the only reason i'm gonna rent the dvd for a dollar , skippin straight to that! then bam! return pile! it's not possible to give a shit less about the rest of the CRAP that this movie consists of !
It had to happen...I agree with ERIC CARTMAN.
Wow. I just read the whole review and have absolutely no idea if you LIKED the movie or not.

Can I have my two minutes back, please?
Wow. Bold choice to have a big spoiler in a review of a movie that just came out and nobody has seen yet. Bold, retarded choice.
A big spoiler with considerable warning beforehand.
I actually found this review straightforward and helpful. Didn't mind the spoiler (particularly given the forewarning), even if it doesn't sound, to me, like the (spoiled) ending betrays the rest of the film the way Jen thought it did.

I won't read the spoiler, but how did you even manage to review this when it doesn't open in Seattle until this weekend? (Even though all the posters said December 3rd, boooooo).
@7 Really? You've never heard of an advance screening for journalists?
I, for one, cannot wait to see it.
Writing from San Francisco where the film as already opened: I'm not sure she dies at the end. We certainly see her gravely injured, but we don't see her death onscreen. Think how the film changes if she survives--anti-psychotics, infamy, shame. Its a fitting ending to what the film sets up. But we are equally left to believe that she might die. That ambiguity is important, given the way we've been pulled into the fabric of her psychosis--the ending is one more paranoid projection.

I'm reading reviews after having seen the movie... It's my favorite movie this year.
Saw it last night. If you have any interest in it, which the film deserves, see it on the big screen. For it to have much of an effect, you need to be immersed in its sound and vision.
@8 -- People at the Stranger are considered journalists now?

Just saw Black Swan -- I don't know how you can be so certain that her death is literal. This review diminishes a great movie based on a very narrow interpretation of what I took to be an ambiguous ending. I think the ending totally works and parallels the ending of the Wrestler beautifully.

Can we just have Dan Savage write all the articles? He's the only one at the stranger that isn't a douche. The ending made the movie and it was clear throughout the movie that Nina was self-destructive. Also it ties this movie in with the wrestler. Both where shot very similar and yet while it the wrestler it worked to bring you closer to this character, it has the opposite affect in Black Swan.
Spoilers ahead!!!

You are an idiot. The movie is literally the story of Swan Lake. Literally. Retold. Duh. It is a multi-layered story, yes, but it is obvious that the director was retelling Swan Lake. So obvious. SO OBVIOUS. The story and that ending had to unfold that way because it is THE STORY OF SWAN LAKE. This is hammered into the head of the audience. Rewatch the movie and you will notice.

yeah. this is easily one of the dumbest reviews i have EVER read on the stranger. the movie hits you over the head A THOUSAND TIMES with the fact that she's going to die in the end ("it's a story about a girl whose prince falls in love with the wrong girl, so she kills herself"..."that's depressing"..."no, i think it's beautiful"), so it's barely even a spoiler. it's not about how it ends, it's about the beauty and skill of how it gets there.
I would sum up this movie in three words.

Beautiful. Dark. Vagina.

The dancing in this movie is beautiful, thanks to the amazing Benjamin Millepied, principal dancer at NYCB. Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, two dancers fighting for the role of the Swan Queen, are two beautiful individuals as well. A nice contrast between the two, Portman being innocent and naive, while Kunis is sexy, blunt, and wild. I would also say it is hard not to look at the dancers through out the movie, sweat, tights, bulges, enough said.

This movie dips into the dark side, a not so happy look behind the curtain. Literally dark, Portman often dressed in light colors, runs into her dark alter ego on the street, in the club, and also in mirrors, what? Yes, she is a little crazy. Lots of scratching, bleeding, peeling, and stabbing. If you do not handle blood very well, you are now warned. The director also focuses on the negative aspects of ballet, including bulemia, sleeping with the company director to gain lead parts, and getting shit for being too old.

The link between Portman being able to dance the white swan and the blank swan lies within her vagina. Her problem was that she was too tight to let go on stage. The solution? Masturbation, sex, and hosting a beaver buffet for Kunis. To all you straight men out there, yes, Mila Kunis eats her out. Whether or not it actually happens is up to your imagination.

This movie is excellent, a must see during the holidays. The combination of the music and the suspense, makes it necessary to watch it in the theater. Guys, bring a date/someone you want to get close to for the night. They will be latching, or at least I was.
Damnit! Of course I couldn't stop, and you have ruined the film for me. Fuck you, and your stupid skinny-white-drunkard loving rag of a paper!!!!
I walked out after it was over and asked my wife, "Do you think she dies there in the end?"
I saw it last night. Its a pretty overwhelming movie-going experience, as @11 said, to be immersed in the visual and auditory aspects of the film in a theater setting is crucial.

As far as Graves' review, I went home and read the whole thing, as I'd avoided her spoiler. I was hoping to get some sort of heightened understanding of what I just saw, but the tone of the review sounded as confused and overwhelmed as I feel, too.

I think the film truly is a work of art. The plot is merely a rough framework that the actors and director exploit to put the viewer through an experience, a powerful cocktail of both emotional and physical sensations. I almost had to walk out I was so uncomfortable.

So afterwards, I went across the street and had another type of powerful cocktail.

A. She definitely dies.

B. To @14: I must have missed the lesbian cunnilingus in "Swan Lake."

A. You don't know if she dies or not, just like in the wrestler you don't know. So to say that she definitely dies makes you look like a pretentious know it all.

B. If you're going to present yourself critic you should know that an interpertaion of a story isn't a shot by shot remake of a story.

C. If you're going to write a prententious douchy review of an amazing movie, don't get surprise when people call you on it.
Yeah after reading the initial review, I also thought Jen Graves was being a pretentious douche and that the movie was just way over her head. But after reading her defense of the review, I clearly stand corrected. Give this woman the Pulitzer!
black swan is an amazing movie, and the ambiguous ending is both perfect and devastating. this "review," on the other hand, is poorly constructed.
It's interesting to me how up-in-arms some people are about this review. I quite loved the film, and don't really see anything in this review that qualifies as an attack. Some people unduly sensitive to criticism (that, it should be noted, isn't even being leveled at them).

That said, having now seen the film (spoilers!), I must confess that your reading of the ending seems thuddingly literal, Jen. Her death doesn't strike me as being any more a literal event than the emergence of those wings or the ostensible oral sex.
@20 I wonder what the point of commenting is, if you're basically just going to give the comment equivalent of "Nuh-uh." I mean, either get involved in the discussion or don't. Why do you think a literal interpretation of her death is the correct interpretation (as a opposed to a symbolic death of a part of her character)? I think this could actually be an interesting discussion and would be curious to hear your point of view. But, "she definitely dies"... not so interesting.
You mean this movie isn't about real estate? I was looking forward to a real pot-boiler on FHA policy!
I request a re-review written by Charles Mudede!
Why, why, why are parentheses being so overly abused?
To Jen,

What made you comment that Natalie Portman's arms were as "balletic as Lisa Simpsons?" Are you taking hints from the New York reviewer who got reamed for saying a real ballerina had "one sugarplum too many?"

Anyways, I guess I can't ask for better writing and form from a free paper. But I think I can say that you have failed as a writer and as a human being for such a cheap shot at an actresses looks in an already appearence obsessed industry. I hope your career never reaches the level where people pay for you to insult women, shrew.
14 is right right right. 20, not at all.

"Crammed with twins — lookalikes, mirrored images, doppelgängers — the story follows that of the “Swan Lake” ballet in broad, gradually warped strokes." -- MANOHLA DARGIS

Read HER review.
I feel like I got a lot more out of this film than Jen Graves did. For me, the movie was about the obsession with perfection. Portman's character had made dramatic sacrifices to acheive perfection: starvation & bulemia, broken feet, no social or private life, no real realationships (except the warped one with her mother who encourages Portman's striving for perfection), etc. In the end she sacrifices her very sanity to achieve perfection (arguably the last thing she has left to sacrifice), and kills herself in the end so that she dies at the pinacle of her life. One might even go so far as to call it the perfect death.
@30: The comment about her arms is a swipe about form rather than fat. My girlfriend (18 years ballet, so I presume she knows) made a similar comment about "sloppy arms" after the movie. And yes, it's an unbelievably exploitative profession. I've heard enough stories about directors approaching 16-year-old girls, to inform them: "loose five pounds in a week, or you're out." If I ever have a daughter, she ain't getting within a hundred yards of a ballet school.
The movie was ok, but fell a little flat. It was trying to be a "coming of age" film where the main character grows in some way. In this case, she is trying to free herself of her self-critical perfection and realize a darker, more fluid, and sexual nature of herself and dance technique. So how does she do it? One night out partying, and one night masturbating.
Written, directed and produced by men - a juvenile male fantasy.

Don't get me wrong- I'm a man, and I enjoyed the masturbation and the girl-on-girl scene. But I also like to see substantial character growth. I won't feel sad though, cuz two out of three ain't bad.
@14, 15: What? There are some similarities between the movie and "Swan Lake," but no, it's not literally the same story. I'm assuming Beth would be the white swan and Nina the black swan, so in the movie, we have the black swan killing herself, not the white swan.

Or if Nina is the white swan, who's the black swan? Lily? If so, then we have the prince choosing the *white* swan, and her *still* killing herself (it's clear the ballet teacher wanted Nina, if the ballet teacher is supposed to be the prince). The movie just doesn't correspond to Swan Lake so directly; it's symbolism and metaphor.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.