NATALIE PORTMAN VINCENT CASSEL MILA KUNIS BARBARA HERSHEY
I felt the same way after this film I did when I saw There Will Be Blood. I remember liking it to the point of appreciation, the fact that it was a compelling, visual achievement that held so much more. Black Swan is a rare piece of art for cinema, it’s a film in the mold of Kubrick’s The Shining or even Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Black Swan will be a film to watch over and over, and the better it will get, because there is hardly any way to take in all the fantastic detail visionary director Darren Arronofky presents you with. I’ll get to the soon-to-be Oscar winning performance of Portman down below. Black Swan is a dark film that explores everyone’s own terrible inner self, our reflections and how some of us control that, while others destructively lose that control.
Nina Sayers (Portman) wants nothing more than to dance perfectly; perfection is something she strives for, in her step, in her warm up, in front of her mirror. Living at home with her constraining but caring mother (Hershey), Nina’s entire existence revolves around her life at the ballet. Desperate to be featured more in their new production of the tragedy Swan Lake, Nina lands the lead role which requires her to dance as both the white swan that is lovely, simple and beautiful, but also as the black swan who is bold, unpredictable and much darker. Her director (Cassel) says she was born to play the white swan, but doesn’t know if Nina can find it in herself to become the black swan.
Aronofsky has always been an odd director to me, but Pi, Requiem For a Dream and The Fountain all seemed to lack elements, it wasn’t until The Wrestler that Aronofsky seemed more focused and interesting to me. Black Swan is easily the masterpiece of his career and I think it will be difficult to create something more perfect than this. Taking something like ballet which is regarded as beautiful and making such a dark film about it and how one dancer can push herself to the point of destruction makes for something extremely compelling and fascinating to watch. The cinematography here, the way the camera moves, how it follows Nina, is beautiful and captivating. The musical score, which at times seems to echo The Silence of the Lambs eerie score, never lets the audience get comfortable in their seat, we are always uneasy.
She is already an Oscar nominee and a highly respected actress, but Natalie Portman disappears into this role unlike anything else she has done. Not only the physical demands, the loss of 20lbs, the yearlong ballet practice but the power we see from her, the restraint at times, it’s both moving and creepy. Portman is in every scene, and every moment is stunning to watch, whether she is tearing chunks of skin off her finger or balancing on her mangled toes this role is what her entire career has been leading up to. It’s worth mentioning that Hershey is also quite good, and will likely be rolled into the films many Oscar nominations. The best films of the year are always those that leave audience members stunned, talking about the film, and delivers something unexpected and completely unique, Black Swan has that and more.
Final Thought – A disturbing masterpiece of a film.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih