|Black Swan (USA; 107
directed by: Darren Aronofsky
starring: Natalie Portman; Mila Kunis; Vincent Cassel; Barbara Hershey; Winona Ryder; Benjamin Millepied
Ibad says: "Vincent Cassell informs his group of New York City ballet dancers that he's going to stage the old staple of ballet, Swan Lake. But it's going to be different. It's gonna be stripped down, visceral, real.
|Bruce says: "Darren Aronofsky has created a thrilling albeit flawed film. Having had sufficient time to reflect, I honestly remember few of the flaws which seemed so evident at the time; however, the visceral impact of the film remains as strong, if not greater, than it seemed during the screening.
"BLACK SWAN is a character study taken to horrific levels. Nina (Natalie Portman) is an aspiring ballerina. She needs that one big break to escape the ranks of the chorus and step into the spotlight as a featured performer. Her physical talent is inarguable but her ability to convey emotion is very much in question. Sadly for Nina she is in a profession where physical prowess alone is not enough to sustain a career. She, as do all of her peers, suffers from relentless pressure, intense competition, the ticking of the biological clock, and innumerable sacrifices that affect her personal well-being. Fragile by nature, Nina’s plight is further hampered by her single mother’s overprotective nature and desire to create for her daughter the successful career she never had.
"When the ballet master (Vincent Cassel) announces the company will next do a new version of 'Swan Lake' using the same ballerina for the white and black swans Nina has her heart set on the role; a new arrival from San Francisco named Lily (Mila Kunis) may threaten her chances. During the audition she nails details for the white swan but is told that she lacks the emotional depth for the black swan. The passion is missing. After a strange couch casting incident, Nina gets the role after all. The balance of the film involves her descent into madness in order to achieve artistic perfection. The disarming back story of Beth (Winona Ryder), the former star ballerina of the company who is forced into retirement, adds to the inevitability of Nina’s fate. After Beth has been run down by an automobile while crossing the street, Nina pays Beth a visit in hospital. The room is threateningly funereal, huge bouquets of flowers covering every horizontal surface.
"In the latter portion of the film, Aronofsky unfortunately abandons his character and relies on superficial tricks of the trade to complete the story. Nina’s body becomes the equivalent of the refrigerator in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM - a source of terror. The weakness of the script is largely overcome by a truly brilliant performance from Natalie Portman and a good supporting turn from Mila Kunis, her rival and nemesis. Barbara Hershey is eerily macabre as the ambitious, passively aggressive stage mother who sobs as she paints at her easel, planting the thought that Nina’s demons may be hereditary.
"Nina’s nightmares and hallucinations are exquisitely created. Many of them involve dirty tricks that Lily uses to undermine Nina. Until the end of the film we are never quite sure what is real and what is imagined by an increasingly twisted mind. The ending of the film is unfortunately dissatisfying. I felt unprepared for the two-dimensional horror stunt which Aronofsky chose as his finale. As in Matthew Bourne’s 'Swan Lake,' Tchaikovsky’s music is an ominous and haunting accompaniment to this interpretation of the fabled story. 4 1/2 cats
|Michael says: "Why didn’t anyone tell me how much damn fun BLACK SWAN was? Natalie Portman really shines portraying a young ballerina and her descent into madness as she loses herself to the 'black swan.' And Darren Aronofsky really pulls out all the stops to create this visually magnificent, and thematically brilliant piece of psychological horror. It’s so impressive to see a film that effectively uses camp elements and is still really well done. Usually films that are 'camp' are bad films. This one is a really well-executed exception. So many fun parts I can’t mention them all.
"Do want to mention Chlotrudis Award-winner Matthew Libatique for his spot-on cinematography. No nominations though, as it isn’t eligible. 4 1/2 cats"
Marilyn responds: "Michael----to say Black Swan was 'fun' says something about you and I don't think I want to go there...:)"