Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Black Swan

I don’t know that any contemporary filmmaker gets more out of their actors than Darren Aronofsky. After seeing his latest flick, Black Swan, I imagine Aronofsky’s relationship with his lead actress Natalie Portman behind the cameras mirrored that of Portman’s character, dancer Nina Sayers with Thomas Leroy, played by Vincent Cassel, in their on screen quest for magnificence – without the psychological torture.

A competitive New York City ballet company is casting for a production of Tchaikovsky’s, “Swan Lake.” The ambitious Leroy wants to present the production in a new manner, which revolves around the idea of one dancer portraying both the cursed white, and evil twin black swan. Every dancer needs the lead role. An early competition between Sayers and company newcomer, Lily (Mila Kunis) is apparent, but the white/black swan metaphor does not revolve around two people. It revolves around one.

Portman is astonishing in this film. She is both bombastic and tender, and always balances the two opposites gracefully. She lets herself go freely in ways her character cannot.

This was the first I’ve seen of Kunis in a drama. As Lily, her motives are always a bit foggy, and for that, she Kunis deserves praise. There always seems to be ulterior motives to her actions, but they can’t quite be confirmed.

Again, I can’t imagine Aronofsky would appreciate the comparison, but I can’t help but picture him speaking with his actors the way Leroy does his dancers. This is a painful and tragic film, and perhaps his best of what I have seen. This is one that will stay with you for a while.

I’d like to add that I saw this movie a week ago, which is why I mostly stuck to surface level review and plot summary rather than any deep analysis. My hope is that in the future, I will be able to get writing immediately after viewing a film to give deeper insights to how I felt about it.

Also, rather than assigning arbitrary stars, numbers, or letter grades, I’m just going to go with a more conversational verdict.

So for Black Swan, I say definitely go see it. It’s dark, twisted, and scary at times. It has phenomenal acting and direction, and looks beautiful.


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