Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan (2010) — So this film has been compared to works of Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg (although my favorite reference was Ellen Fox from Rotten Tomatoes who said it was like “The Red Shoes meets The Red Shoe Diaries“).  I can see all of those factor present in the movie but I think it’s a movie that seems to me like 100% Darren Aronofsky.  Working as usual with cinematographer Matthew Libatique and composer Clint Mansell (whose score consists primarily of variations of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake), Aronofsky is once again plunging into the world of people undone by their obsessions (mathematics in π, addiction in Requiem For a Dream, immortality in The Fountain, & professional wrestling in The Wrestler).  The unfortunate protagonist this time around is Nina, a girl in her late 20s (and “girl” is the appropriate word, not “woman”).  Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina, implicitly pushed into it by her mother (a terrifying Barbara Hershey) who gave up her own ballet dreams when she got pregnant.  I didn’t know the plot of Swan Lake going into this movie but it’s explained for people like me who are ignorant of ballet.  Nina gets her big break when she is cast in the dual role of the White and Black Swans.  The company’s director Thomas (a sleazy Vincent Cassel) tells her she has the technical perfection to pull off the White Swan but not the passion and sensuality to pull off the Black Swan.  So that’s the plot.  From this point on it’s all very ambiguous.  Nina is cracking up and a good chunk of the movie is stuff that doesn’t really happen.  In some movies (High Tension) this is an annoying cheat that invalidates the experience of watching the movie (god, the end of High Tension pissed me off).  This is not one of those cases.  Since we know up front that Nina is going off her rocker it serves to illuminate her fucked-up mental state.  Through the fantasies we can pick up what Nina is really frightened of and what she really wants.  This is a great psychological thriller.  Hey, I think I’m the first reviewer ever to actually make it through a whole review of this movie without mentioning the Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis lesbian sex scene… dammit.

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