As James Blake’s The Colour In Anything continues to prove to be the only gift that keeps on giving from 2016, is it any wonder that the English songwriter and musician would cast Natalie Portman in his latest video for the single “My Willing Heart”? Quite frankly, no. And it’s even less unexpected that where there’s Natalie Portman being shot in black and white, there’s a high quality cinematic director attached to the project, specifically Anna Rose Holmer, best known for her acclaimed debut, The Fits.
Still, even with that “Blue Jeans” video aesthetic, there isn’t much that can be done to make pregnancy look desirable. Opening with a circular shape that looks vaguely like an eclipse, Holmer leads us in to a scene of Portman splayed out on her bed as though to assert, “Yes, I make pregnancy look ethereal, but it still fucking sucks.”
Perhaps to alleviate the feelings of constant discomfiture and disgust at how fat one must be to carry a child, Portman takes a dip, doing a casual floating backstroke in the water so as to experience a form of weightlessness that has become anathema to her. All the while, Blake croons, “When I see my willing heart, how will I know? How will I walk slow?” Well, the answer to the latter question should be fairly obvious to Portman, who definitely can’t walk at a clipped pace with all that extra weight piled onto one concentrated part of her body.
Caresses of her belly interspersed with more scenes of her swimming are supposed to somehow pair well with the celestial motif of the song, punctuated by the lyrics, “It’s a strange spell that we watch for/And one I swear I never saw/Every now and then, every now and then/Every now and then/You’re still on my screen.” Screen, in this case, maybe applies to a sonogram though? Regardless of how, exactly, Blake conceptualized the premise of the video in conjunction with Holmer and Portman, the primary takeaway is that being pregnant is arduous in any setting and in any body.