Monday, January 24, 2011

Black Swan [2010]
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

A ballet dancer wins the lead in 'Swan Lake'. She is perfect as the delicate White Swan, but slowly starts to lose her mind when she tries to embody the dark Black Swan.

It's hard to describe Black Swan to people. It's part thriller, part fantasy horror, part ballet drama, it offers a mixed bag of genres and styles that aren't easy to explain in just one word. Black Swan is all about the experience, it's a movie that tugs on your senses and forces you to feel what is happening on screen in front of you. That's where the movie is at it's strongest, when it feels more like a personal diary rather than an actual movie.

Darren Aronofsky completely lets us absorb ourselves into Nina's [Natalie Portman] world. I don't think there were that many shots in the film that didn't focus on Natalie, whether it was her face, or body or her visions. The camera comes in real close, every eye brow twitch and focused stare from Natalie is inescapable. In a way, it's almost claustrophobic, but it's needed to really get us right into Nina's mind, too experience the story from her eyes.
That sort of approach to telling the story allows Darren to pull off some really great direction. The ballet segments are beautifully shot, the opening scene being the main highlight of those shots for me. Nina's slow descent into madness offered a much darker 'blink and you'll miss it' type of editing that really toys with your mind and puts you on the exact same roller coaster ride Nina is on. Did she just see what she saw? or was it just a trick of her eye? actually do have to focus in on a few scenes to pick up on the subtle images that scattered throughout some of the scenes. The scene involving Nina venturing into a night club is probably the best way Darren showcased this, with the dance floor soaked in red lighting, and flashes of Nina dancing frantically hidden amongst shots of the Black Swan's face making an appearance within the crowd. You'll see certain things for half a second before you realize what is actually going on in front of you, it's very effective.

Obviously the films next big strong point is Natalie Portman's portrayal as Nina. She was fantastic in the role, not only is she beautiful, but as an actress, she's always had a very strong access to her emotions, and that ability was put into good use in Black Swan. From her uptight innocent beginnings in the film to her out of control, emotionally broken ending final act, Natalie eats it up from start to finish. It's not only her emotional side as Nina that was impressive to see, but the role also asks a lot of her sexually. From her graphic, but awkwardly hilarious masturbation scene, to her aggressive, but very sexy lesbian scene with Mila Kunis, you haven't really seen Natalie be as open as this before.
If the acting itself wasn't impressive enough, her dedication to the role is most obvious when you watch her dance. An entire year was set aside for Natalie to train in ballet for the role, and she pulls it off perfectly. As an entire package, the role was incredibly demanding, and it's amazing to see her pull it off so effortlessly.

The remaining cast in Black Swan do a great job also, Mila Kunis was perfect in her role as Nina's hot rival, she also did well in giving the movie a more relaxed vibe since so much of the film is focused around Nina's incredibly stiff and serious personality. Vincent Cassell was also cast well in this, his character gives the movie a few needed moments of light comedy, and even though his character can be seen an somewhat inappropriate, he's also very like able.

Black Swan is much more than what the movie trailer for the film makes it out to be. It's a fascinating look into the mind of not only peoples obsession with perfection, but also how much mental instability can affect us if we can't grab a hold of ourselves. Essentially, Black Swan is a 2 hour hallucinatory journey into the mind of a very unwell young woman, while she tries to not only grow up, but also follow her dreams. The movie will really pull you in and shake you up, it stays with you.

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