Black Swan: The Controversial Sex Scene Between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, Is it Inappropiate?
Several posters from the movieClick thumbnail to view full-size
The (in)famous lesbian sex scene in Academy Awards nominee film Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky, between Nina (Natalie Portman) and Lilly (Mila Kunis) has stirred some controversy regarding the reasons for being explicit. Is it needed at all? If you, why does it have to be relatively explicit? If you think its only purpose is to attract moviegoers, you should keep reading. There are artistical and narrative reasons for both why the scene shows what it does, and why it's even there in the first place. If this was just a random scene with no purpose
whatsoever other than make people go watch the movie it'd be gratuitous,
but it's not the case. Plus, one scene that you could just google later is not
going to make people (mostly men) pay to watch two thirds of a dark
psychological drama centered about a ballerina dancer who has insecurity
issues and lives with her oppressing mother, just to see literally a 2
minutes (not that explicit) sex scene. But enough about the scene, let's see why it fits with the rest of the film.But beware:
I hate spoilers and I wouldn't want to ruin this movie for anyone, so if you haven't seen it you can watch the trailer here, but don't scroll down past this video until you've seen the movie.
There are two reasons for this scene
One is why it happens, and two is why it's explicit.
Nina starts off as a girl too shy for her age,who's used to seeing herself through her mother's eyes as a sweet little girl. The whole arch of Natalie Portman's character is based around how that view of herself is stopping her in her career as a ballet dancer to achieve her full potential. She must acknowledge her shadow, her 'black swan'. As the story progresses Nina learns to push the boundaries of this prison that is herself. She's basically her own worst enemy, lots of the conspiracies and threats she sees around her are in fact only in her mind, as you will see later. Nina's night out with Lilly is her first step into knowing her darker side. This scene, which you can see in the video to the right, starts with her ignoring and disobeying her mom, follows them to a bar in which after resisting and rejecting Lilly's offer to "live a little", she finally gives in and takes some ecstasy. The mood starts climbing up in intensity as the drug kicks into her system, and they start dancing, keeps raising when she finds herself passionately kissing a guy she just met, until finally she goes back home with Lilly and argues with her mom. She takes her friend to her room despite her mother's complaints, locks the door, and without rest from the heat of the fight, they kiss, undress each other and end up in bed.
The scene in question
During the scene, although she seems to enjoy it, Nina keeps seeing Lilly as herself, or rather, as her dark self. Furthermore, she has some creepy illusion of Lilly's tattoo of two black wings on her back, coming to life.
Few hours ahead and morning comes. Nina finds herself alone in her bed, confused, she notices the door is not locked, suggesting Lilly just left, since it was locked from the inside.
As you can see, the scene is only the culmination of a series of events leading to the main's character most wild and dark moment in the movie so far. Lilly's character helps Nina free herself from her mother and stand up to her, which will be crucial later. It is more significant when noticing the fact that they had sex in her house, in her room, in her pink 'sweet innocent girl'' bed
Sometimes hinting is not enough
So by now you should understand why indeed it is an integral part of the story that this two dancing partners sleep together. But why does it have to be explicit? Why can't they do like Hitchcock and move the camera away as they get into bed? For one, movies that don't display sex at all, or barely hint at it, are stories in which the character's sexual experiences are not crucial to their behavior and the plot.
Also, because a scene like that lacks something essential to this movie: impact. Not sales impact, psychological impact. Watching the scene can make you uncomfortable, it can turn you on or it can repulse you, but chances are you won't be left indifferent and you will certainly remember it.
Black Swan has been nominated in the Academy Awards for:
- Best Picture
- Best Actress in a Lead Role, Natalie Portman
- Best Director, Darren Aronofsky
- Best Cinematography, Matthew Libatique
- Best Editing, Andrew Weisblum
In addition to that, Natalie Portman has won a Golden Globe and several other awards for her performance.
So the reason the scene needs to be explicit and leave a mark in you is because of what happens next:
Nina, after that passionate night, late for a rehearsal because her mom didn't wake her up, confronts Lilly asking her why she left that morning. Lilly, evidently clueless, says she spend the night with a guy, and starts teasing Nina about fantasizing with her. Nina couldn't be more confused, and we, as an audience, share that feeling. This increasing recurrence and intensity of Nina's illusions are significant to the story, and are crucial to the ending of the film.
If the scene hadn't been "explicit" (it could have been much more, specially being a Darren Aronofsky film, like some in Requiem for a Dream), there would be no peak after the exotic night Nina spent at the club, and without that peak, nothing to recall when we find out it only happened in Nina's mind.
You can be as prude as you like, there are many countless examples of gratuitous, irrelevant and explicit sex scenes in movies put there just to attract the audiences, but this is not one of them.
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