So. I’ve got a bone to pick. And it’s with Black Swan. Nominated for Golden Globes, most likely will be up for Oscars, this film received praise from critics across the board. But…..ehhh… Slight spoilers be ahead.
I saw this film over the holiday break. Now, as a very broke recently graduated graduate student, I see very few films in the theater. What? I live in New York, the land where $17 for a film in the theater is the norm. So yes, unless it involves Harry Potter or some kind of Dark Knight, I’m not in the loop until I can Netflix ya. But Black Swan I went and saw in the theaters, not because I have a leotard fetish but more that I am a big fan of the director, Darren Aronofsky. So I was there to see Black Swan when it opened.
But I freaking hated it.
Don’t get me wrong, like I said, I love Aronofsky and even after this film I love him still. I love him like I love Dame Julie Andrews–you’re awesome so I’ll let a few duds slide. The thing is, strip away Aronofsky as a director and the vision he gave the story, and all you have left is a weak told-a-million-times cliche that is at home among Lifetime made-for-tv movies. And I’m not the only one that thinks the story sounds familiar. It’s so obviously formulaic: bulimic ballerina in New York wanting to be perfect, overbearing mother trying to live her dreams through her child, misogynistic director touching up the ladies, all to the score of Swan Lake, bla bla blaa SNOOZE. Aronofsky’s vision is the only thing that makes it slightly worth seeing, but even he can’t polish a turd. The story is in no way new or even interesting….so why the rave reviews? Oh yes, Natalie Portman’s
tiny waist and visible ribs dedication!
The critics constantly talk about Natalie Portman’s weight–she looks freakishly weird, truly the purported 80-some pounds she was. And because the story sucks so freaking much the thing that every review latches onto is this– her weight. Her weight. Her weight. Such high praise for a woman who starved herself for a role. Why are we praising this?
Now I try not to get too upset. Aronofsky himself noted that Black Swan is a complementary film to The Wrestler, his previous film that received rave reviews as Mickey Rourke’s comeback. And when paralleled with The Wrestler I like the film a bit more–okay, low-brow vs. high-brow, dedication to the point of death, I get it. So with this framework in mind I try not to get angry about the praise Natalie receives about her dedicated weight loss. Mickey Rourke undoubtedly changed his body shape for his role in The Wrestler, right?
But The Wrestler‘s body change isn’t as dangerously likely to inspire copycats in a culture that appears to be drawing a line from dedicated to thin to perfect. It wouldn’t be touted as “thinspo” (thin-inspiration) or add to the photos on multiple pro-ana sites online, coupled with critical praise heaped upon a woman for oh my gosh look at how thin she got!!
So Natalie Portman just won the Golden Globe last night. Are we praising her performance in this shitty story? Or are we praising her dedication to get thin? If it’s the latter, which I assume it is, how dangerous is this? Sure Christian Bale lost weight for The Fighter as well, but male weight loss is in no way praised in the same way as female weight loss. Think I’m over-reacting? Type Natalie Portman Black Swan into Google. What’re the first two words that are chosen to accompany this?
Weight and diet.