Pietro's Movie Review: BLACK SWAN
Published: December 1, 2010 - 8:57am
Darren Aronofsky delivers ten-fold in this pseudo-supernatural thriller in ways that are both visually masterful and psychologically manipulative. We should expect a plethora of Oscar nods from this very well rounded cast, who fit perfectly in their respective roles.
I went to see Black Swan for a very specific reason, to attempt to see Natalie Portman out of her element. The popular actresses has already shown she is capable of a toying with a wide range of acting styles in films such as The Professional, The Other Boleyn Girl and V for Vendetta. I've come to expect a confident and imposing presence from her in all her dramatic roles, even those where the dainty starlet exudes vulnerability. This film, though, comes with a twist. It is a quietly chaotic mashing of suspenseful thriller and supernatural ambiguity. More than anything, it is an introspective of a perfectionist's fragile sense of self, and how she copes with the inevitable reality that one must relinquish control in order to feel free.
If Portman's resume has yet to convince critics and fans that she has the goods to tackle any role thrown at her, Black Swan offers no leeway. Her character Nina Sayers, an up-and-coming ballerina filled with so much dedication and resolve you immediately question her implied "fragility." Early on in the film, Thomas (head of the dance troupe, and portrayed by Vincent Cassel)decides to replace his prima ballerina Beth (Winnona Ryder) in their upcoming performance of Swan Lake with Nina. Enter Mila Kunis as Lily. If Nina represents the epitome of controlled grace, Lily embodies a perfect storm; beautiful chaos. Only through a collaborated effort between the two dancers, a combination of uneasy friendship and sensitive competition, can Nina find the ability to both master her art and find her true self.
Rounding out the cast are Cassel, whose effortlessly manipulative yet undoubtedly caring character Thomas is a role he brings to life flawlessly, Ryder as the outwardly charming but internally defunct Beth and Barbara Hershey as Nina's obsessive and controlling mother Erica. Aronofsky guides these stars on a methodical course of tension; which pans out as a very real glimpse into the minds of normal people living self-imposed strenuous lives. Visually, Black Swan is as good as it gets. It's living art; contrasting the delicate dance routines and ostentatious costume design to the often mundane every day lifescapes. The supernatural element of the film is by no means distracting, but adds haunting depth to the obviously scarred psyche of Nina.
Black Swan is a must see for anyone who wishes to witness Aronofsky and Portman at their best, in a film that will replay in your mind over and over again.