At the beginning of the film, the douchebag impresario Thomas Leroy (played by Vincent Cassel to slippery perfection) announces something to the effect of:
” I know it’s been done to death, but we’ll be performing my unique interpretation of Swan Lake this season”.
That pretty much sums up the root of the problem for the film, Black Swan.
Darren Aronofsky is a director specially skilled in the field of making the viewer supremely uncomfortable. I first watched Requiem for a Dream maybe 5 years ago, and I haven’t watched it again even though I have the DVD. The film, although immensely powerful with all it’s hyper-realistic portrayals of many people going kuku at the same time, was about as entertaining as being impaled repeatedly with a blunt knife. After briefly and very successfully dabbling into the world of crazy people and crazy wrestling people (with the Wrestler, ah, duh), the director’s out to expose the dark bleeding insides of the pure yet elusive atlantis of the ballerina (also crazy).
Here’s a short summary of the story; Natalie Portman plays the lithe and virginal ballerina Nina, who is finally awarded the lead role of the Swan Queen for her company’s latest blockbuster production. Although she is perfectly suited to play the White Swan, she has difficulties channeling her dark side to portray the richly seductive villainess, the Black Swan. Faced with disappointment from her mentor, the overprotectiveness of her mother, as well as competition form a rival ballerina in the form of Mila Kunis, the stakes soon becomes too high and she crumbles majestically under the pressure.
Aronofsky’s avant garde film making is the true star of the show; the cinematography dances gracefully with Nina, chronicling her magnificently choreographed descent to pristine perfection. As for Natalie Portman, even though the acting is top notch, it is hard to regard her performance as anything more than a well choreographed dance sequence; her character often seen as one dimensional as a typical damsel in distress in any horror movie. Also, the story is so simple, so predictable and so done to death that it doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Yes, Black Swan is Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation of the horror movie.
The film is a intellectual idea of a classic tragedy, but sadly nothing more. Fear, sex, metaphors are the chief forms of vocabulary used to bring the idea to the screen. Speaking of fear, I half hated and half laughed at how the film assumes that everyone is genophobic.
As with many Aronofsky films, Black Swan is a chimera, how much you enjoy it largely depends on what your fears and phobias make it out to be. Although the effect is powerful, the film is essentially the director dripping a few drops of blood on water; kinda unsettling at first, but gets horribly diluted beneath the surface.
Wat the heck, I still shat in my pants watching the movie. Might just rewatch this one.