Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Review: Black Swan (2010)
Director Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is strongly based on the four act classical ballet: Swan Lake. Swan Lake tells the tale of a princess who has been cursed to appear as a swan, and will remain this way unless a prince confesses his love for her. Upon falling in love, the prince is deceived by an evil sorcerer, and proposes to the wrong lady. Devastated and heart-broken, the "Swan Queen" throws herself into the lake- taking her own life. The Prince witnesses this and cannot bare the despair- leading him to the same fate. Aronofsky is known for his ability to flourishingly depict a variety of downward spirals (i.e. the heroine addiction of Requiem for a Dream, the obsession of a washed up professional wrestler portrayed by Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler). Aronofsky continues this trend in Black Swan, as he introduces his audience to Nina (Natalie Portman)- a ballerina desperately consumed by the role of her lifetime, to the extent that her fate is beginning to match that of the very character she is set to master on stage- the Swan Queen. Challenged by her competition (the other desperate ballerinas), obliged by her mother to give it everything she has, drugged by her most prevalent rival (Mila Kunis), and hounded and seduced by her fierce ballet instructor (the always astonishing Vincent Cassel), Nina is quickly loosing her grasp on reality. She is becoming obsessed with perfection, and until she realizes that she is the largest obstacle in her way (perhaps quite literally), perfection will not be achieved. Will she make it to the show of her life before her hungry alternate dancer? Does she have the dedication it takes-and for that matter-is it worth it? Wow! Black Swan is everything a thriller should be. It's original, tense, charismatic, psychological; it's art. The symbolism achieved in this film between fairy tale and reality is truly hair-raising. As if the screenplay and Aronofsky's clear understanding of it wasn't enough, Natalie Portman shows us all that she was born for this role- which ironically is of a girl who was born for her role (I'm pretty sure we have just been incepted). Not only were her emotions absolute, but her physical abilities and appearance matched that of a professional ballet dancer. The levels that Black Swan clicks on are endless. The correlation between the characters of Swan Lake and the people in her life is something that could only have been captured in this way by Aronofsky and perhaps Kubrick. Much like the music within the ballet, this film is a never ending crescendo that contains a finale worthy of applause. The film achieves what its leading lady seeks the most- perfection. For ranking as the best film viewed all year and containing the best performance by a single actor, Black Swan earns 4 stars for this audience member.