Girls Gone Wild: I Am Love and Black Swan

Monday, December 13, 2010

There are many reasons why I've been away from the blog for the past two weeks- I was in LA for Thanksgiving and Miami for Art Basel. Then, when I returned to chilly, snowy New York, I caught a cold. The real reason for my extended absence from blogging, however, has to do with a lack of inspiration. I was quite simply blocked. I felt I had nothing to say about fashion. Even the simple pleasure of dressing myself- and the way I felt when I opened my closet felt completely joyless.

Enter this weekend: when I was bogged down with a cold, bed-ridden, and armed with a Netflix account. On Saturday, I stumbled upon I Am Love. Then on Sunday afternoon, I went to see Black Swan with a few bloggers, including Jennine, Ann and Tanya. After seeing both movies, I had a little private a-ha moment. Something to write about! I had been meaning to see both movies for a while- and it was remarkable how many similarities their stories shared.

I Am Love photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures

Both films trace the unsettling psychological transformation of two women with seemingly perfect lives. Over the course of the films, the viewer is invited into two privileged worlds- in I Am Love, a wealthy Milanese family with an old school villa that most of us could only dream of owning and in Black Swan, the competitive world of New York ballet. Both movies have surprising tragic twists which I will not spoil for you here. And both are beautifully filmed- and feature rich costumes (Fendi and Jil Sander for I Am Love and Rodarte in Black Swan).

In I Am Love, Tilda Swinton plays the wife of a wealthy Milanese business man who looks the part with her minimalist outfits and luxury handbags. But the real point of the story is that she is unhappy with her Vogue-worthy life and deep down, she feels trapped in her family's mausoleum-like mansion. What she really wants is to get real- and that means being out in the country with a lover, cooking and shod of ornamentation. Tilda Swinton is a talented actress, and let's face it- she owns the Raf for Jil Sander looks here- but she also owns wearing a bandana and chinos and cooking soup just as well... I Am Love is not a perfect film (there are just too many crazy plot twists and turns) but the coda is complex, and Tilda brings so much to the role that you want to dissect it over and over once the credits roll.

I Am Love photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures

I had a similar initial lukewarm reaction to Black Swan upon leaving the theater this weekend... I questioned whether I had hyped the movie too much or whether I had read too many reviews to make it worth my while. As a ballet fan, I wanted there to be more actual dancing. My knee jerk reaction was that Darren Aronofsky, the director, was trying to express so many different ideas in one film, and it was all a little overwhelming at the end. Natalie Portman plays the ingenue who is cast as the lead in a new production of Swan Lake. Portman's character is a dancer who is so obsessed with perfection and her dance career that she can't see how effed up her supporting characters are: her controlling ballet mom played by the chilling Barbara Hershey, her creepy and inappropriate company director played by Vincent Cassel and her frenemy understudy played by the talented Mila Kunis.

The shots in Black Swan are suffocating and dizzying - in part due to the handheld, shaky camerawork which I remember from Aronofsky's breakout film, Requiem for a Dream. Portman does some good work here, even if I was totally hating on her character for being so tense and intense. This film nearly veers into camp territory- with its over the top drama and diva characters- but then, as if remembering that it is an "art film," it tiptoes en pointe back into art film mode- and that was the most frustrating part of the whole experience. It's a little bit of everything rolled into one film- a little bit of drama, horror, campy dance movie (c.f. Center Stage and Show Girls), sci-fi and All About Eve. I wish the director would have owned the camp thing a little more.

Black Swan, photo credit: Niko Tavernise

Black Swan, photo credit: Niko Tavernise

In conclusion, I didn't fall in love with both movies right away, but respected their cinematography styles and the overall "thesis" of both. Strong acting work by the leads. And any film with strong fashion wardrobes is worth seeing in my book.

Your thoughts? Did you see I Am Love or Black Swan? Please share in the comments! Let's talk.

17 comments:

Maya • Fashion Illustration blog said...

Well I certainly love how you wrote this. I have I am love for a while now, but keep saving it for a special occasion. It seems to be so beautiful.
And Black swan am waiting for just for its aesthetics.
What is great though, is they are films with strong female characters with actual depth... something I think is quite scarce in the film industry.

M

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http://mayabeus.blogspot.com/

jaassnnaa said...

Great post!

Scientific Housewife said...

I can't wait to see Black Swan!

The Photodiarist said...

Two of my fave movies of the year. Especially Black Swan. Love the rodarte tutus. As for I am Love -- incredible Jil Sander wardrobe. But both movies were off kilter, which I love. Better by far than movies like Love and Other Drugs.

thefatandskinnyonfashion said...

I want to see both movies so bad. When I Am Love was playing, I didn't get a chance to go see it. I might have to join netflix so I can check it out. Black Swan isn't even out in my town yet. Darn those limited releases!

Fashionstyle said...

Amazing pictures !!

lisa said...

The boy and I saw Black Swan on Friday. It was a tough sell trying to talk him into seeing a ballet movie initially and I had to cite the love scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as part of the persuasion lol, but by the end of the movie he couldn't stop talking about how "interesting" it was and how "it really messes with your head."

StuddedLilly said...

now i really want to see BOTH of the movies, they sound like could be something interesting and make you think..
thanks for sharing the "reviews"

hope fashion inspiration will knock on your door again :) stay warm! can't believe its only 20 degrees out there.
xx

Wrecked Stellar said...

Hey D! I haven't seen Black Swan yet- when we tried going on a weeknight, it was all sold out. I've gone back and forth on it- when it first came out, I was like, no don't need to see that, then I was like, OK, I'll see it because I want some movie popcorn :), then when it was sold out, I was like yeah, didn't need to see that one. :) After reading your review, I'm glad I didn't see it :). xo, mel

Syed said...

Gah, I so want to see Black Swan!

linda said...

I am supposed to go see it this weekend! Thanks for the awesome post :) Great blog!

jen laceda said...

You actually piqued my interest to go see both films!!!

msshamz said...

wow Natalie Portman looks so different!! Can't wait to watch the movie!

Ashley [Free Honey] said...

I haven't seen either of these, so unfortunately I can't really discuss but I just wanted to say that I'm glad you found something that inspried you!

Gen Revelation said...

Very good critique of the movies. I'll admit though I still want to see Black Swan. Is it worth it? Or should I just wait for cable?

Jillian said...

Have not seen Black Swan... going on Sunday though! And I FREAKING ADORE I Am Love... it is a brilliant movie... I am hoping I get it for Christmas hehe

Milly said...

I am Love totally passed me by but your write-up has me intrigued enough to lovefilm stalk!

I have caught a few of Tilda Swinton films and there is just something about that woman's acting quality that makes one feel as if they are witnessing something really private & honest.

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