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With ‘Black Swan’ Darren Aronofsky Is At His Best

by Anne Jordanova on December 17, 2010

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After leaving a screening of Black Swan, I, undoubtedly along with the rest of the audience, felt moved and disturbed by Darren Aronofsky’s new ballet thriller BLACK SWAN. A creative masterpiece yet again from the mastermind who brought us heart wrenching reality films like Requiem for a Dream and 2008′s The Wrestler.  However, this is Aronofsky at his absolute best.

The film, at the center of it all, is about what performers sacrifice to make great art. Everything else around it falls into place to tell this story with tragic, and logical detail. Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina inside the exclusive world of dance in New York City. She lives with her overprotective mother (Barbara Hershey) and is so innocent and virginal, she is perfect for the role of the upcoming revised version of “Swan Lake”, creatively directed by Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). As she is cast in the role of the White Swan, her inability to let go and tap into her darker self to also dance the counter part of the Black Swan, begins to take its toll. At first, we understand this business of ballet is so strenuous and rigorous it is just constant pressure. However, as the film unwraps we realize Nina is losing her sanity, all the while dancing the Black Swan better and better. Added into the mix is new company member Lily (Mila Kunis) who is the opposite of Nina, carefree, free spirited, and wild. As Nina becomes unhinged and paranoid, she thinks Lily is here to take her role, and her love interest.  She also begins to see her face in other women, and has fantisies about self mutilation.

The amount of talent Aronofsky and his team have in creating this visual masterpiece is particulary fantastic. The sound is so claustrophobic, surrounding Nina and her mind, trapping them inside. The director also follows closely the very accurate demanding physicality of ballet; torn ligaments, bloodied feet, the stress, and the grueling schedule.

Black Swan is a film that will stick with you. It will, like the visuals Nina begins to hallucinate in her mind, manifest inside you, long after you have left the theater, and will make you think. The film’s ultimate tragic climax and simple tale of what a performer does for their art will haunt you undoubtedly, long after the film has finished, and the credits have rolled.

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