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Review: Black Swan (TIFF)

Black Swan (TIFF)
09.10.2010
9 10


PLOT: The mind of a driven New York ballerina (Natalie Portman) begins to unravel after she gets cast in a revival of SWAN LAKE by a tyrannical director (Vincent Cassel).

REVIEW: Watching BLACK SWAN was an excruciating experience for me, and I mean that in a good way. Darren Aronofsky is a master at making his audience squirm, and this is just as cringe-worthy as another one of his triumphs, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. The reason I found it to be such a trial is that Aronofsky seems to have a direct pipeline into my nightmares, and the decent into madness experienced by Portman in this resonated deeply for me on many levels- which is a frightening thing.


Now, before I get into BLACK SWAN too much, I advise anyone who hasn't seen the trailer to avoid it like the plague. As effective as it is, it gives away far too much of the film, and the best way to see this is to view it cold. Some have called it a variation on the Powell/Pressburger classic THE RED SHOES, and it does indeed share many similarities. This is especially true of Vincent Cassel's tyrannical maestro, who seems lifted right out of that film. However, BLACK SWAN is it's own beast, and in many ways it perfectly compliments his last film, THE WRESTLER- something which has been noticed by a lot of the critics who saw this at Telluride and Venice.

Like that film, this is the story of an athlete (in this case a ballerina) who's pushed her body to it's breaking point trying to achieve perfection in her craft. In her world, failure is not an option, as she knows nothing else, and if she can't dance, she might as well be dead. In someways she's actually worse off than Rourke in that film, as it's obvious that she's a completely unhinged young woman, completely infantilized by her mother (Barbara Hershey), who wants to see her daughter succeed in the way she hasn't. To that effect, Portman's character is very much a child, inhabiting the body of a grown, sexually desirable woman.


She's able to arouse desire in both her director, and even a fellow dancer, played by Mila Kunis, who's essentially her dark doppelganger. One gets the idea that Portman's even playing a virgin, and she only begins to experiment sexually when she meets this woman, who's aggressive in all the ways she isn't. Regarding the sex scene between Kunis, & Portman- yes, it's there, but it's done in a tame way, so don't go in expecting BOUND fellas', as that ain't gonna happen.

I also should point out that BLACK SWAN isn't really the horror film it's being marketed as, although it's more frightening than any true horror film I've seen in the last little while. The reason it disturbed me so much is that it demonstrated that more than any outside force, we are the ones that destroy ourselves. In an extremely difficult role, Portman gives what may be her best performance to date, and it would be a sin if she's doesn't win best actress at the Oscars this year.

She's absolutely incredible, and this will be the film that establishes her as THE actress of her generation. She's literally in every scene of the film, and she's so commanding that her performance will haunt you as much as it did me. Aronofsky's one director who really knows how to pull out the most from his performers, and what REQUIEM did for Ellen Burstyn, WRESTLER did for Mickey Rourke, BLACK SWAN does for Portman.

It'll be interesting to see if the public is able to enjoy BLACK SWAN, as it's certainly a difficult film. One thing's for sure, all the Joblo.com readers who've supported Aronofsky from day one will adore this, as it's as good as anything he's ever done. It's incredible.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:36PM on 12/30/2010
The problem I had with your review is the phrase "decent into madness"....there was no decent. She was insane from the start and only cgi and bad screenwriting gave the illusion that she got any worse.
The problem I had with your review is the phrase "decent into madness"....there was no decent. She was insane from the start and only cgi and bad screenwriting gave the illusion that she got any worse.
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+0
8:17AM on 09/12/2010

well...

I may have to check this out...
I may have to check this out...
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7:16PM on 09/11/2010
That review made me cum in my pants
That review made me cum in my pants
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4:08PM on 09/11/2010
I sure as hell can not wait for this movie! Requiem For A Dream is one of my all-time favorite movies. And I totally agree with this, "Aronofsky's one director who really knows how to pull out the most from his performers". The performances in Requiem were all amazing!
I sure as hell can not wait for this movie! Requiem For A Dream is one of my all-time favorite movies. And I totally agree with this, "Aronofsky's one director who really knows how to pull out the most from his performers". The performances in Requiem were all amazing!
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+0
4:02AM on 09/11/2010

OM NOM NOM NOM

NOM ME A CAD A ME! NOM NOM NOM.
NOM ME A CAD A ME! NOM NOM NOM.
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11:40PM on 09/10/2010

Wow

Color me stoked, Chris B. Always been an Aronofsky & Portman fan. So this is a double whammy.

No one plays an unhinged douchebag better than Vincent Cassel & Mila Kunis continues to be easy on the eye. Let's just call it a quadruple whammy then...
Color me stoked, Chris B. Always been an Aronofsky & Portman fan. So this is a double whammy.

No one plays an unhinged douchebag better than Vincent Cassel & Mila Kunis continues to be easy on the eye. Let's just call it a quadruple whammy then...
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11:25PM on 09/10/2010
I want to see this movie so bad.
I want to see this movie so bad.
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10:43PM on 09/10/2010
Atta boy, Bumbray. Now I'm even more stoked to check out this film.
Atta boy, Bumbray. Now I'm even more stoked to check out this film.
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10:17PM on 09/10/2010

!!!

I am looking forward to this movie!! I know it said to avoid the trailer like the plague, but I saw the trailer already weeks ago. I still can't wait!!! Seems like this year at the TIFF is a great year. The movies reviewed so far are all good.
I am looking forward to this movie!! I know it said to avoid the trailer like the plague, but I saw the trailer already weeks ago. I still can't wait!!! Seems like this year at the TIFF is a great year. The movies reviewed so far are all good.
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+2
10:14PM on 09/10/2010
I seriously can't wait for this. I just saw Requiem for the first time a week or so ago, and it blew me away just as much as The Wrestler did. Aronofsky is easily in my top 5 favorite directors.
I seriously can't wait for this. I just saw Requiem for the first time a week or so ago, and it blew me away just as much as The Wrestler did. Aronofsky is easily in my top 5 favorite directors.
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11:35PM on 09/10/2010
Welcome to the world of Aronofsky. Do check out Pi and Fountain as well!
Welcome to the world of Aronofsky. Do check out Pi and Fountain as well!
8:58PM on 09/10/2010

woah

this sounds really good, and seeing that joblo gave it a 9/10 I'm so in (I feel like I am so kissing ass -_-)however my heart did sink when I READ "Mila", "Natalie" "sex scene" and "TAME"my heart sank a little lol oh woah with me
this sounds really good, and seeing that joblo gave it a 9/10 I'm so in (I feel like I am so kissing ass -_-)however my heart did sink when I READ "Mila", "Natalie" "sex scene" and "TAME"my heart sank a little lol oh woah with me
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8:45PM on 09/10/2010
is this not a horror movie like silence of the lambs wasnt a horror movie or is this seriously not a horror movie!?
is this not a horror movie like silence of the lambs wasnt a horror movie or is this seriously not a horror movie!?
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12:10AM on 09/11/2010
Good question, but not a horror movie at all. Less horror than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Can't really go more into it without spoiling it. It's more unsettling than scary- but works VERY well.
Good question, but not a horror movie at all. Less horror than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Can't really go more into it without spoiling it. It's more unsettling than scary- but works VERY well.
7:06PM on 09/10/2010
looking forward to this!
looking forward to this!
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+4
4:55PM on 09/10/2010
Very happy to read this and I'm pumped to see it.
Very happy to read this and I'm pumped to see it.
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+3
4:15PM on 09/10/2010
so amped for this.
so amped for this.
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+9
4:11PM on 09/10/2010

Can't wait

The comparison to Requiem for a Dream is enough for me to buy a ticket!
The comparison to Requiem for a Dream is enough for me to buy a ticket!
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