Darren Aronofsky‘s much anticipated film Black Swan opens tomorrow night. And if you have the stomach for many bloody, aggressive, and violently visceral scenes involving ballerinas, it is an impressively powerful, disturbing movie worth checking out. But after watching the movie earlier this week, I haven’t been able to shake the film’s weird relationship with food and eating disorders.
The world of highly competitive ballet is a scary place. And Black Swan ups the voltage to 11. Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a talented ballerina who pushes herself into dangerous physical and mental territory with a quest for balletic perfection. But the film’s stars also pushed themselves to dangerous limits to get in shape for the film, and that’s something that is hard to overlook while watching.
Both Natalie Portman and her costar Mila Kunis are pretty underweight in Black Swan. But as much as Nina is presented as an out of control anorexic, Mila’s character Ali is her opposite – a healthy, sexualized, happy ballerina. And for a lot of girls, the lack of distinction there could be very dangerous.
As it turns out, there’s a very fine line between intense discipline and psycho OCD inspired eating disorders. And Black Swan jumps back and forth over that line for about two hours.
I’m not suggesting that the actresses have eating disorders. I have no idea about that. But, the ways the actresses prepared for the movie were pretty disturbing. They physical trained for hours a day and ate very few calories. That’s generally how people lose significant amounts of weight from already thin frames.
In the film, the two characters are polar opposites, not two underfed girls. Portman’s Nina is one screwed up chic. She’s probably anorexic. She’s definitely bulimic. Portman only eats once in the movie, and that is when her mother forces her to try a taste icing from a cake.
But Mila Kunis’ character represents everything Nina is not. She parties, has sex, does drugs, and eats cheeseburgers. Which is a bit of sticking point. Adult females who are over 5 feet tall and weigh less than 95 pounds do not eat cheeseburgers.
In fact, Mila made a point of noting this in interviews she’s done since the film wrapped. She tells E! Online:
“After production ended, the first thing I did was go get Panda Express at the airport terminal at Virgin America at JFK.
“Then I landed in L.A. and I got in my car and drove to In and Out and I had a Double Double animal style with a root-beer float; and it was fantastic!”
Mila is now back to her normal weight:
“It took me five months to lose 20 pounds, and it took me hours to gain it back!”
That’s what happens when you eat cheeseburgers. Meanwhile, Natalie Portman’s struggle to lose weight for the film was a little different. How did she lose 20 pounds on an already petite 5’3″ frame? She tells Us:
And that’s exactly the trait that makes her character in Black Swan so terrifying. She tries to control every aspect of her life and eventually damages herself, both physically and mentally. Which often happens with eating disorders.
But Portman enjoyed the training that made her into a stick for the movie:
“I think I would do this kind of training again because it’s just so rewarding. It’s always one of those things where, when you put in a lot, you get out a lot.”
Spoken like a true anorexic!