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>> Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life imitating art imitating death. Beautiful.

A couple of years ago director Darren Aronofsky brought us The Wrestler, a wonderful film about a man who lives (and dies) for his performances. A couple years before that he brought us The Fountain which was about ... well, I don't really know. Now he brings us the inspiring, the delusional, the dark, the horrific and mostly, the fantastic Black Swan.

Nina (Natalie Portman) is labelled as the rising star for a prestigious New York ballet. Nina, perhaps under the influence of her mother (Barbara Hershey), strives to be the perfect ballerina. She practices so hard it often becomes debilitating, and as her boss Thomas (Vincent Cassel) says, "It's not about perfection, it's about passion".

But this isn't the way Nina works, and when she lands the role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, all bets and all inhibitions are off. Much like the attitude of her predecessor (Winona Ryder), Nina now feels she is constantly in a battle with someone who wants to take her place - a new girl named Lily (Mila Kunis). Although Lily seems to only want to be Nina's friend, she seems mischievous and like she's hiding something. To say this creates a paranoia for Nina is an understatement - as is the constant pressure of trying to be the perfect lead, right down to last detail.

Black Swan is a haunting film about the obsession of ‘making it’ - a theme carried over from The Wrestler. Nina has a true passion for the arts, to the point where you see she eats, breathes and sleeps ballet. You can feel her obsession, always on the verge of complete despair and teetering on the fragile breaking point of success - every move is calculated far in advance to it's action. Yet when she secures the role she's always wanted, there is no real happiness - no sense of relief for the one who strives to have it all, and finally achieves it. This unrest is what makes Black Swan so intriguing.

The look and design and direction of the film is also something to really pay attention to, as it presents itself to the viewer as another character. Black Swan is a movie that gets into the mind of it's characters, and allows you to see what they see - feel what they feel. This is by far Aronofsky's best work to date and I am certainly interested to see how he pulls off next year's The Wolverine, seeing as it's not his usual forté.

I am giving Black Swan an open door. The film is just as patient, quiet and delicate as it is exciting, loud and harsh. Normally I would say you have to be in the mood to watch an Aronofsky film. They're the type of film that if you watch just the right moment it may blow you away - other times, you can't wait for it to be over. With Black Swan, it takes you in and grips you until it's final moments - all without you really knowing why. Watch for Portman and Kunis come Oscar time, they both did excellent with this one.

*Stills courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures


Editing Luke January 2, 2011 at 10:19 PM  

I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but I actually really liked it. The thriller element of the plot had just the right amount of mystery and didn't seem forced or overdone.

Angry Charlie January 3, 2011 at 9:23 AM  

I absolutely agree! That is something I forgot to mention in my review was just how much of a mystery feel this did have. Thanks for the comment!

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