|December 17, 2010|
|Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Drama, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Rated R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use
Natalie Portman steps out of her adorable and virginal on screen presence to add yet another successful film to her long list of accomplishments. In “Black Swan” she plays Nina Sayers, a tormented ballerina dealing with the pressures of an overbearing mother and becoming the next big lead, starting off with the role of the Swan Queen in the ballet “Swan Lake”. Sounds great right? It is until her mental stability begins to unravel in a glorious thriller that comes completed unexpectedly.
Darren Aronofsky is known for his projects involving a loose knit grasp on reality. “Requiem of a Dream” is one of the biggest cult classic successes of his films. More recently, Aronofsky has succeed in intriguing me with his films “The Fountain” and “The Wrestler”. I am not the only one, as “The Wrestler” popped up with awards during the 2008 Academy Awards. Aronofsky appears to have a unique view of the world, which makes for interesting cinema, and I can appreciate that.
The story of “Black Swan” is very different from what the previews have you believe. From the trailer, you would believe Mila Kunis’ character, Lily, to be the one vying for Portman’s role, and pulling out some horrible acts to get what she wants, but really, “Black Swan” is Nina versus Nina; not Lily versus Nina. Lily simply becomes a product (or instigator) of Portman’s own paranoia and deteriorating mental health.
Nina also faces the burden of an overbearing mother (played by Barbara Hershey, who plays the part perfectly). Even though Nina is significantly internally troubled, the coddling from her mother produces a huge red flag. The relationship between the mother and daughter appears healthy from the opening scenes, but as the film progresses and Nina begins to come into her own, her relationship with her mother goes down the garbage shoot with all her stuffed animals, even going as far as physical violence.
“Black Swan” has many female issue undertones, and more than most films I have seen, you really feel apart of a female evolution piece more than a dramatic depiction. The female heavy casting has a lot to do with this feeling and makes the film even more thought provoking. The male parts have very few speaking parts and really only exist to fuel the female’s progressions. Steps to pull out symbolism between the growth of the female body and the events in the film would be rather easy given an afternoon to connect the dots, proving why this film may miss the male demographic. The inclusion of a very hot self-satisfying scene by Portman and an intense wet dream of Kunis and Portman becoming sexual will fill the gap left for the male viewer feeling estranged from the deeper meaning.
There is no question that Natalie Portman deserves the Academy Award nomination for her performance in “Black Swan” and if the film were to garner more awards, it would not surprise me. “Black Swan” is simply a well produced suspense thriller carrying its cast to the next level of their careers while chiseling another notch in Aronofsky’s ever growing successful name.