Striving New York based ballerina Nina (Portman) gets her wish; the lead role in a rendition of Swan Lake. But the gig comes with a price; an evil doppelganger busting chops and a hopeful (Mila Kunis) that may or may not want to axe her out to get the gig. Who knew the ballet scene was this whack!
Darren Aronofsky. End of review.
I could stop writing now and feel that I said all I have to spit about BLACK SWAN
. The man’s name tagged with his impeccable track record thus far in terms of putting out movies that blow away the norm says it all. In fact, I wish it was the end of my review; cause sometimes, specially for a film of this ilk, it would be nice for me to just see a film; be affected by it, digest it for a couple of days, relish in what I got out of it and call it a day. Alas; I got to pump this sucka out right now; pour out thoughts that are not fully formulated yet within my one brain cell. So for better and for worse, here we go! Let’s see what happens!
To say that Darren Aranofsky is one of my top modern filmmakers would be an understatement; he IS my favorite
modern filmmaker. An auteur that I look up to and who’s work always moves me. PI, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, THE FOUNTAIN, THE WRESTLER…masterpieces...all of them! And now the same can be said about his latest creation, the subversive psychological thriller BLACK SWAN.
So much to say, so little type space. BLACK SWAN pummeled me on so many levels that my heart and gray matter were
bruised after the screening. On the surface; it gave me a glimpse of the ballet scene, one that I don’t know much about beyond the 6 months of ballet classes I had to take when I was in acting school. NOTE: I sucked at it and covering up a hard-on when wearing tights was quite the challenge. END OF NOTE. Although the flick did give me the 411 on just how physically and psychologically demanding being a ballet dancer is; the whole was truly about Nina (Portman) as an individual, her journey in “making it” and more importantly her journey within. Yeah bitches! Take that to the bank and cash it!
Shacked up with an overbearing mother (brilliantly played by Barbara Hershey) that would make Margaret White from CARRIE blush and carrying enough repression filled hand-grenades to fill up
five lifetimes; following Nina around and watching her go through her ordeal made for a mucho compelling and often cringe inducing watch. I was so rooting for her; but yet circumstances and her own warped state of mind played against her constantly. That resulted in me groaning in discomfort many
o times, poor girl…. come here and give me a hug. At the end of the neck snap and dumpster dump though; this
bitter pill was all about (for me that is) repressed feelings
and them boiling up
to the surface. We all have a dark side, we all have primal impulses and lots of
us bury them down at the bottom f our core (sadly for me I don’t... why I always get in
trouble lol). BLACK SWAN was all about Nina losing grip on the control
she had on herself hence discovering that sexy, dangerous and violent side. Like Mickey Rourke wisely said in Wild Orchid:
Sometimes you have lose yourself to find yourself.
That saying WAS this movie
And as communicated by Mr Aronofsky; Nina’s adventures in the gay old time of self discovery and letting go, wound up flirting with Polanski, Cronenberg
and Lynch tendencies. The paranoia and the psychological breakdown Nina gradually went through screamed Polanski’s
early work (like Repulsion and The Tenant). The many moments of body horror, i.e. Aronofsky using physical ailments to
parallel the psychological turmoil of the lead gal brought to mind Cronenberg circa Videodrome, and The Fly.
And the doppelganger jive, the eroticism (this movie was so sexy) and the mind-f*ck approach reminded me of LOST
HIGHWAY. That's the biggest compliment I can give the film by the way.
Moreover; now that I think of it; the ballet show (Swan Lake) within the film
slyly mirrored the happenings as to Nina’s trek as well hence jacking up the impact of
the whole. Portman’s character was the White Swan; Mila Kunis was her Black Swan
and also Nina's guide as to discovering the Black Swan within.
Visually; it's Aronofsky; what do you think? Powerful slow motion, brilliant
framing, a club scene that murdered me in its authenticity (yup I felt like I
was on E at a club) and in a bold move; lots of over the shoulder/cinema verite shots. Not an obvious choice for a psychological thriller... and ya know what? It worked like a
charm! It added intimacy to the affair while the
sometimes dizzying camera work echoed the lead’s mind frame and upped the tension of the
happenings. Needles to shout that none of it would have mattered without bang on actors in the house and Black Swan had no
worries in that department; Natalie Portman gave the showcase of her career as Nina; a multi layered, emotionally damaged/driven and uber brave display. Vincent Cassel took a role that could have been one dimensional and gave it nuances. He’s also
such a charismatic mofo; so he had my points!
Winona Ryder reminded us why she is the SHITE, Mila Kunis was ideal as the easy going, live to the fullest ying to Nina’s yang while Barbara Hershey was mucho effective as the
"smother to death" mother. Tag to all that gold an
evocative score by Clint Mansell, one that deviated from his usual
vibe but that stayed true to the heart of the film (am listening to his Abandon score as I write this BTW),
gorgeous cinematography, moments of pure suspense and editing that every Hollywood hopeful should
take notes on and you get a cinematic masterpiece, a work of art in motion that blew my
mind, touched my heart and burned my soul.
Any complaints? NO! NONE! NADA! ZILCH! BLACK SWAN was tops all around. I came out of that theater drained and also inspired. So much so, that once I am done with this blasted review; I’m gonna pull an all nighter on my script. Thank you Darren Aronofsky for
ONE AGAIN moving me, making me cringe, making me think and making me feel. So you wanna dance
with the devil?
We get a couple of cringe inducing bits like skin ripped off, cuts in one’s back, a stabbing, toes glued together and a pinch more. Not a gorefest but when the nasty kicked in, it hurt.
Although the flick didn’t fully show anything; what it implied was hot enough to get one's juices flowing. Hard nips through shirt, girl on girl kissing, simulated oral, masturbation and Portman’s round bootie filling up a pair of undies to a T.
If Cronenberg, Lynch and Polanski would team up on a movie; Black Swan would be the result. Yup, Aronofsky did it again in what may be his best film yet! Talk about a full dish! Am talking a gripping and challenging storyline, actors on top of their craft and then some, suspense, chills, heart, soul, sexiness and a deliciously morose streak. The score (Mansell = genius), editing, cinematography and dialogue were aces as well! Any questions!?! If BLACK SWAN doesn't clean house at The Oscars; I will lose what faith I have left in Hollywood. All of you who love cinema beyond the mold and the mainstream BLACK SWAN should be for you. Support it on the big screen! I will DEFINITELY go see it again, again and again.
Darren Aronofsky pitched Mila Kunis the role on Skype, without an audition. She said yes.
The first draft of the script was called "The Understudy" and unraveled within the world of New York theater. Darren Aronofsky changed it to the ballet scene.
Meryl Streep was considered to play Nina's mother.