Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Black Swan

Swan Lake is as big as it gets in the ballet world. It is a work of beauty and grace. Leave it to director Darren Aronofsky to turn it into a gruesome psychological thriller. Black Swan is Aronofsky's fifth motion picture and it is by far his most acclaimed film. Nina Sayers, a ballerina brilliantly played by Natalie Portman, is given the daunting task of performing the lead in Swan Lake. Her life's ambitions, alongs with her mother's passed on dreams, have come to fruition when she lands this role. As Nina begins to learn both the White Swan and Black Swan dances, she comes into conflict with a rival dancer, Lily, played by That 70's Show's Mila Kunis. As the two dancers become acquainted, their relationship twists into a psychotic mess of dance and deceit.

Black Swan impressed me. When I heard about this movie, two questions came into my head: "Can Darren Aronofsky pull off directing a ballet movie?" and "Do Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis really get it on?" The answer to both these, fortunately, is yes. As far out of the norm as it may be for Aronofsky to delve into the depths of ballet, he pulls it off gloriously. The focus shifts easily from the ballet aspects of the film to the more psychological aspects. As we watch Portman's character expand sexually, we become entranced by the atmosphere of the film. The rawness of Nina's relationship with her mother and her loss of innocence combated with the score of Swan Lake and other classical music, creates a vibe that only Darren Aronofsky could concoct. Also, a shout out to casting director Mary Vernieu, who, in her third Arronofsky film, casts both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis perfectly. Portman plays the childlike, innocent White Swan to a T, while Kunis provides the carefree Black Swan that she has practically perfected. A more minor casting call I agree with is Winona Ryder as the washed up ballerina, Beth. You could tell that there were some personal thoughts backing up that performance. In all, Black Swan ends as it begins: on point.

Grade: A

Flawed main characters - Oscar
Complex concepts of the mind - Oscar
Psychological; makes you think - Oscar
You want/need to see it again to understand it fully - Oscar
Original storyline - Oscar

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