PEOPLE: Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, Pi, and other movies I haven’t seen). The thing about Aronofsky…. I know he’s a great director, but for the most part I enjoy his directing style more than the actual movie itself. That is to say, he seems to be a good director who directs movies that I don’t necessarily like. Requiem For A Dream is possibly in my Top 20 movies of all time — a 10/10 movie — but The Fountain only got 2/5 stars (6/10) from me, and, despite rating Pi 8/10, I still feel that it is slightly overrated by people in general.
PLOT SUMMARY: Ballet dancer goes crazy.
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Bitch mom causes ballet dancing daughter to turn lesbo AND crazy.
VISUALS: Lovely lesbian scenes, disturbing broken toenails and body scratches, lots of mirrors, odd craziness.
I did not notice that one of the shots as a tribute to a shot in Perfect Blue, one of my favorite anime movies by Satoshi Kon. Aronofsky bought the remake rights just to use it! Apparently there are a lot of visual tributes to Perfect Blue. Satoshi Kon died recently, and we made it a point to watch pretty much the entire body of his work. It’s definitely time to check out Perfect Blue again.
Some of the visuals actually disturbed me more than some of the stuff from the Saw movies, because these were injuries that I could, at least, comprehend. I’ve lost a nail before, and it’s not pleasant.
MORALS: Striving for perfection in art is not a recipe for good mental health.
GOOD STUFF: Lesbian scenes. Trippiness of going crazy. Portman’s performance. The tension, both sexual, psychological, and otherwise.
I just don’t care about dance that much. As a story, this did not entertain as much. The first half of the movie was SO slow; nothing great or particularly interesting seemed to really happen. I was reminded of Showgirls… repeatedly. It seemed to poorly straddle a lot of different genres.
If you don’t know the Swan Lake ballet — you will miss out on a lot of parallels. The credits actually list Swan Lake character names next to each of the character’s names in the movie. Personally, I don’t really care for allegory as much as others. I find most allegory to be an attempt to subtly inject interesting meaning into something not so interesting. I guess, being more of a direct and blunt person, that I prefer messages that are in your face.
This is one of the few movies I’ve seen where I watched the trailer. I think when we saw Alice For Wonderland. I thought it was going to be more about sexual harassment than about going crazy, and thought this based on the trailer. I think the trailer caused me not to do the normal investigation that I would do, which caused me to not realize what this was going to be about, which caused me to not really know what I was watching when I watched it, which caused me to not enjoy the story as much as I could have. This seems to cement my anti-trailer theory; I usually think it’s a bad thing to watch a trailer of a movie before seeing the movie.
People are saying this was psychologically exhausting, and mentally draining — but I couldn’t find myself drawn in enough to care about what was happening enough to really expend any measurable amount of mental energy on this. The hardest part was giving a shit enough to stay focused and ride it out to the end. At least the 2nd half required no effort, but the 1st half required a concerted effort of giving a damn when I normally would not. I can be made to care about things I don’t normally care about (like ballet) with movies, but this one failed to do that. I don’t think i released a drop of adrenaline the entire movie.
CONCLUSION: I still liked this movie–barely. But it’s probably going to be one of the biggest disappointments of 2010 for me. I don’t know how people are saying this is up there with Inception or The Dark Night. I wish this had been half as good as Requiem For A Dream. Or as Pi, for that matter.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 8.5/10 (#64 movie of all time, but this rating will probably drop over time), Netflix: 4.2/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 4.3/5 stars–way too high).
RECOMMENDATION: Don’t listen to me. Everyone got sucked into this one. Then again, almost everyone enjoys dancing more than me. And I think people like Aronofski better than me too. If it wasn’t for Requiem For A Dream, I might swear him off for life.
SIMILAR MOVIES: This is just ShowGirls with a psychopath instead of a sociopath, and better directing and choreography. Except I rated ShowGirls 1/10 higher than this. At least in Showgirls, the conflict was real, and not (partially/mostly) imagined. And while the chroeography was better in this movie, at least Showgirls had dancing that I actually liked.
Nina: I just want to be perfect.
Thomas Leroy: I got a little homework assignment for you. Go home and touch yourself. Live a little.
Lauren W: “It was AWFUL!”
Alison R: “It was OK.”
Chris R: “Good, though mentally draining afterward. The first part of the movie was tough for me too due to the moving camera style of filming.”
Lissa thought it was deserving of awards.
Mark U: “It was awesome if you are into psychological thriller flicks. The sexy lesbian scenes didn’t hurt either :-)”
Pantiara: “Better than Inception, IMO. I was shaking by the end of it. It scared the crap out of my mom.”