Black Swan Review
Director Darren Aronofsky seems to be driven by obsession, whether it’s an obsession for knowledge (Pi), drugs (Requiem for a Dream), love (The Fountain), a fading wrestling career (The Wrestler) or with the perfect ballet performance in this film, Black Swan. This makes for an exciting career and Arrenofsky‘s most recent film delivers fully.
I came into this movie only knowing about Aronofsky‘s previous films and that this was a film about a ballerina’s struggle to perform, but I left the film admiring the grueling performances by the lead, Natalie Portman, and Barbara Hershey, who plays Portman‘s mother who struggles to bring up and support her balerina daughter along with her own demons.
There were many cringe-worthy scenes that instead of making me want to turn away, drew me in closer to the screen and story. I had no idea that this was going to be an enthralling story of sex, drugs and ballet that turns into a disturbing descent into the mind of a lead performer obsessed with the challenge of becoming both the white and black swan for Swan Lake, not always being perfect and what that does not just to her body, but her mind, not to mention how to keep from falling behind the competition and losing her position to others in her ever growing ballet troupe, in the same way that the previous upstart, Winona Ryder, did in the dog-eat-dog world of ballet.
Aronofsky has never been been a prolific special effects director, he dabbled during The Fountain, but the way he utilizes visual effects in the Black Swan would put most directors to shame, he utilizes it so flawlessly, so subtly and in such a way that unequivocally improves the story that it’s barely noticeable as CGI, but instead just blends into what are amazing visuals in what is already a visually stunning film, never more memorable than in the opening and closing scenes of the film.
Mila Kunis also brings in a top notch performance as the newest and most up-and-coming ballerina in the troupe that seems to be Aronofsky‘s disturbing version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in a role where you can not take your eyes off of her while she’s onscreen. Kunis also shows that along with her performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that she has the acting chops to leave behind That 70’s Show and become a solid movie star, a jump that many TV stars have struggled to do.
This is a tough film to watch, it is not for the faint of heart, unless you are willing to close your eyes or cover your eyes with your hands during particularly intense scenes, but it is definitely a must-watch film of 2010, with intense performances and yet another wonderful film for Aronofsky. There are very few directors that on their name alone, I would jump to see their newest film, but Aronofsky is one of those names. It is also stunning how much prep work the actresses did to prepare their bodies for these roles, just looking at the tone and definition in their back musculature alone for these performances was quite impressive.
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