Posted on 12/06/10 11:57 AM
In a world where celebrity is always a few clicks away, be it Justin Bieber's fame or Lindsy Lohan's infamy, we usually ignore the fact that these famous faces on our televisions are actually real humans. They may be geniuses, they may be heroes, they may be ordinary, they may even be villains, but they still have the weakness of being people with actual emotions and stress and baggage just like the rest of us have. This is what the Black Swan presents to us, a very flawed woman who is just about to join the highest ranks of celebrity in her own field, and the resulting impact that this event has on her life.
Aronofsky methodically tells the story from gifted ballerina Nina's own point of view. We not only see her dedication and self doubt, but also her ever increasing paranoia and panic. The stress induced delusions in Nina's mind are occasions for Aronofsky to show off his favorite surrealism techniques, and these scenes stand among the likes of Hitchcock and Cronenberg in their intensity and horror. Not to be forgotten, Aronofsky's ballet sequences are also equally impressive, especially when surrealism leaks into those scenes as well.
Of course the most impressive element of the film is the acting. Natalie Portman not only has to portray a seriously disturbed genius, emotionally, but must also succeed in controlling her body language and dancing convincingly as a ballet phenom. On all counts she is flawless. Mila Kunis is convincing as the mysterious villainess? Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder are both disturbing as the mother and the "forced-retiring" star dancer, respectively. The ALWAYS awesome Vincent Cassel is perfect as the ballet director.
If anyone has a problem with this film it will be because of the over-the-top visuals, performances and suspense. None of this should be viewed as a flaw, because it is consistent with the story being seen through Mina's skewed perspective, much like the Shutter Island mystery was distorted by being told from Teddy Daniels' perspective. Unlike Shutter Island this film isn't a red herring filled mystery, but rather a raw thriller that is unbearably tense, exceedingly sexy and borderline gruesome.
See it if you dare!