Posts Tagged ‘Mila Kunis’

Friends with Benefits

Friends with Benefits is the second title within six months to centre around the hypothetical “can friends have casual sex” question following the rather unremarkable No Strings Attached staring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.

Unlike No Strings Attached, Friends with Benefits plays on its self awareness of the rom-com genre to invite the audience into a playful inside joke. Passing references are made to Nicholas Sparks novels, Katherine Heigl’s lies about love and a faux rom-com staring Segel drives much of the narrative. The effect is to nearly, but not quite, convince you that Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are just like you. They have relationship problems, family problems, they make fools of themselves and even make references to TV programmes and series you’re familiar with! (Passing references are made to tropes any audience member will be familiar with, Harry Potter, the Hudson river crash, Will and Grace)

And it’s the chemistry between Timberlake and Kunis which prevents this film from becoming just another rom-com. Timberlake gives a shrewd performance as Dylan, a web site editor from LA who is head hunted by Jamie (Kunis) to become the editor of GQ. Following a weekend of selling the sites and sounds of New York, Dylan predictably caves and accepts the job, leading to a friendship forming between him and the bolshie but privately vulnerable Jamie, whom Kunis is able to credibly pull off.

Following a late night viewing of the pseudo rom-com which is both the inspiration and the differentiating factor of Friends With Benefits, the pair decide to give no strings sex a go, leading to the sort of sex scenes which have always been excluded from the genre. There’s certainly no pans across the room resulting in the action slowly slipping from the mise en scene here. Yes it’s beautiful people having sex, and your eyes can’t help but wonder to the strategically placed sheets which hide two of the hottest properties in Hollywoods’ frames, but let’s be honest, this is half the reason why we’re here and the film certainly delivers on that front.

Rather unsurprisingly feelings between the two aren’t dropped at the foot of the bed, and the pair end up falling for each other in the sort of scene the film has satirised throughout. Whilst the script did somewhat let down the potential chemistry between these two, the performances were for me spot on and injected new life into what is an over worked genre and what the film lacked in plot, it certainly made up for in it’s zeitgeist references and comedy one liners.

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My choice for best dressed of the week this week is going to Mila Kunis at the Moscow premiere of her latest title Friends with Benefits.

The actress wore an Elie Saab couture dress from the 2011 collection.

The dress has a ballerina style about it and the sequins make it sparkle beautifully. The low necklace is hidden by a mesh panel making the look all the more delicate and lady like.

She paired the gorgeous dress with some Elie Saab heels again in white, and went for a brown smokey eye. The hair bands and the loose, wavy hair finish off the look perfectly.

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Black Swan is centered on the life of virginal dancer Nina, a member of the New York ballet school. Portman plays her near perfectly as she is given the biggest role of her career, to play the lead in Swan Lake. The life she leads is claustrophobic, stuffy, and completely consumed by dancing. Her mother has projected her own hopes and dreams onto her after her own ballet career was cut short after she fell pregnant, resulting in a tendency towards bulimia, scratching at her skin until it bleeds and what starts off a mild psychological disorder.

The narrative of Swan Lake and that of the film soon begin to become more and more entwined. Nina’s innocent persona doesn’t fit with the dual role of the Swan Queen, as she is required to play both the white swan, whom, being graceful, poised and precise, she is naturally more attuned to, and the black swan, the antithesis of the white, ruthless, dark and twisted.

Artistic director Thomas encourages Nina to lose her frigidness, he tells her to look to new dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), who is imprecise, tattooed, smokes, drinks and is free, for inspiration. He also advises her to use masturbation to explore sides of herself she is out of touch with.

Soon Nina’s psychological disorder becomes more exaggerated, the audience is unsure if what we are seeing is real or part of her consciousness as Nina’s transformation into the black swan becomes more consuming. This is perhaps where the brilliance of the cinematography is best represented. A grainy filter, muted colours and shaky point of view shot lets us see through Nina’s eyes, reminiscent of a documentary style of film making, resulting in an, at best tense and at worst terrifying atmosphere. Flashes of Nina’s face are almost seamlessly placed onto the screen, leaving us just as confused as to what is real and what is not as Nina must be.

Overall this film is one of those which stays with you long after your first viewing. You never quite know what is real and what is fake. Hallucinations and mirages crop up so frequently you can never quite relax and the effect is a psychological thriller which will have you engrossed from start to finish. If Portman does indeed win the Oscar for best actress, which I suspect she will, it is definitely deserved. If you watch it expecting a light, delicate film about ballet, you’ll feel short changed. If what you’re after is an uncomfortable, chilling psychological thriller, you won’t be disappointed.

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