Black Swan Review
Written by: alex1176
The word in Hollywood is that Natalie Portman may recieve the Oscar for leading best actress for "Black Swan". If I was betting man in Vegas, I'd bet on that bet. Seriously, Portman has always been a great actress, but she's at the her apex of craft as ballerina Nina Sayers; the disturbed protagonist of Darren Aronosky's critically-acclaimed film. The director's follow-up to his "The Wrestler" which earned comeback kid Mickey Rourke an Oscar-nomination, is a highly-stylized melodrama that contains elements of the horror and psychodrama genres. It's the sort of film that Stanley Kubrick or Adrian Lyne (Jacob's Ladder) would've made at an early point in their careers. Also, the word "absurd" is a term that came to mind as I watched the movie unravel. Roger Ebert also called it out as such which I sort of expected given the movie's eccentric use of over-the-top theatrics. A great movie this is, but it will also polarize some viewers with its overt use of sexuality, sudden violence and lurid atomsphere.
Aronosky once again employs film techniques he used in "The Wrestler" to capture the backstage world of the exquistie craft of ballet. Using a handheld camera, the director immerses the viewer by documenting the details of a major New York ballet production. The film takes place in the Big Apple, but its world mainly exists within the confines of the stage and studio. Nina Sayers (Portman), a working class dancer who lives with her slightly-dysfunctional mother (Barbara Hershey) is given the chance to play both major parts of a new production of "Swan Lake". Her director, a sexist dominating Frenchman (Vincent Cassel) believes she can deliver a breakthrough performance, so he uses sexual advances to "assist" her psyche. As Nina progresses in her inward journey to find the part of the evil swan within, she expresses a desire to exploit her sexuality. She makes out with her director, dances at a club, has sex with herself and with a fellow dancer that will no doubt win Portman new male fans. Mila Kunis plays the dancer of Portman's desire.
"Black Swan" is a beautifully photographed, foreboding motion-picture that is artistic in the sense of capturing extremeful moods. It is graphic in its depiction of sex and violence and even manages to be funny at times. Aronofsy concludes his companion piece to "The Wrestler" with a similar conclusion, one that is simutaneously ambigous and triumphal. His film isn't as dramatically involving as his wrestler movie but it is only because it is not in love with its characters so much as technique. This a skillfully made film that is so well-done that you'll find yourself seduced by its world more than the people than inhabited it. When skill and technique trumps humanity in a motion picture, the emotional impact lessens.