Title: Black Swan
Read: May 18, 2011
Summary: Psycho Thriller, Qu’est-ce que c’est
Reviews for two Natalie Portman movies in a row! She was wasted in the previous Thor, but shows off some serious chops here. This is clearly in a different league altogether.
Directory Darren Aronofsky fuses stylistic traits from his ultra surreal films (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) with the more documentary style The Wrestler into this psychological thriller. While oblique in terms of what’s actually happening, it’s positively crystal clear in comparison to that earlier trio. Also, dark as it is, it’s by no means as unrelentingly depressing as Requiem. Can we say “ass to ass” anyone?
First the components. The music’s awesome. I love Swan Lake as a composition. The acting is even better. Natalie, Mila, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey all stand out. The film is deliberately underwritten, standing on the strength of its style, acting, and direction. For whatever reason, Darren Aronofsky loves walking shots where the camera is anchored low behind the shoulders of the protagonist, or right in front of their chest. Both The Wrestler and Requiem are filled with these. Black Swan has even more. Rest assured, it’s a stylish looking film.
Now as to the overall effect. I enjoyed it, but this certainly isn’t a fast film. It’s more pretty, with a kind of savage quality, much like the ballet itself. Thematically, I take the entire fantastic/horror element to be purely the reflection of ballerina Nina’s internal state of mind. Even her entire feud with Mila’s Lily is in her own head. There is perhaps a more literal fantastic interpretation, but I feel the case for the psychological is much stronger. This is the opposite of say, Pan’s Labyrinth where while again both psychological and mythological interpretations are possible, I prefer the fantastic.
In any case, it’s a unique film. Not at all the typical Hollywood fare — but then nothing Aronofsky has done is.