Saturday, March 26, 2011

Black Swan (2010)

Movie quotes:
Thomas Leroy: What's going on?
Nina: [crying] Lily! You made her my alternate?
Thomas Leroy: Well there's always an alternate. Lily is the best choice.
Nina: No, but she wants my role.
Thomas Leroy: Every dancer in the world wants your role.
Nina: No, this is different. She's after me. She's trying to replace me!
Thomas Leroy: Nobody's after you.
Nina: [crying harder] No, please believe me!

At a glance:
Darren Aronofsky creates a nightmarish reality for a perfectionist ballerina played by the lovely Natalie Portman

Our review (with spoilers):
Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose technique is virtually perfect. But according to choreographer Thomas (Vincent Cassel), her dancing lacks passion and is as frigid as she appears to be. Her drive for perfection means that she falls short when attempting to let herself go. Despite her shortcomings, she is able to convince Tomas (with her dancing as well as with one moment of aggression) that she is the best in the company, and against the odds she is chosen to be the Black Swan, the lead dancer. This sends her into an even deeper spiral, her drive for perfection pushing her into an area where her life and nightmares are intertwined.

As well as being threatened by her own sexuality and that of others, she has to compete with rival dancers like the free spirit Lily (Mila Kunis), who seems to be friendly but also could be plotting her demise.

Nina’s drive for perfection seems to derive from nature and nurture; her doting, bitter mother (Barbara Hershey) is a sad figure who keeps an extremely close eye on her daughter, sometimes protecting her as if she were still a child.

Director Darren Aronofsky’s strongest talent of many is his ability to create a nightmare blended with reality. He does this again here, as he did in Pi, with his protagonist almost tortured by herself and her environment. Portman is also perfectly cast as the frigid beauty. Aronofsky’s film is captivating because each moment is key – there is no filler, no wasted scenes. Every moment, movement, and word spoken is part of the story.

While the film is hard to watch at times (as is almost all of Aronofsky’s work), it is ultimately accessible and rewarding. This cannot be said of all films that are so dreamlike and artistic.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"You've never seen a movie quite like "Black Swan" before. It's brazen, it's ridiculous, it's magnificent, it's human, it's unique, it's the world at its worst, it's the worst at its best - and this is why it's so weirdly compelling."
- Christopher Smith (Bangor Daily News - Maine)

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