Best Films of 2010 #1 – ‘Black Swan’

- Advertisement -


Black Swan

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Written by Darren Aronofsky

2010, USA

Darren Aronofsky does not have a medium setting. However one might feel about any of this films – from the agitated anti-drug parable Requiem for a Dream to the time-bending metaphysical sci-fi mini-epic The Fountain to working-man’s tragedy The Wrestler – it’s difficult to argue that he holds back in any respect. Black Swan acts as a sort of greatest-hits of Aronofsky’s past pet themes – contorted bodies (Requiem), pathological obsession (Pi), and the transformational/destructive properties of the performing arts (Wrestler), but in execution it takes a bold leap in a different direction, throwing caution to the wind and delivering an over-the-top, consistently heightened, and gloriously insane film that isn’t afraid to skirt with the ridiculous in order to engage with its high-art millieu and troubled central figure.

That figure is Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina working under the sometimes-lecherous, sometimes-fatherly watch of the company’s director, played by Vincent Cassel. Cassel is mounting a spartan new version of Swan Lake, and needs a fresh face to stun audiences and investors alike, both having grown tired of the company’s long-standing leading lady (Winona Ryder). As auditions begin, the ever-studious (if clearly unstable) Nina emerges as a possible front-runner, but only if she can demonstrate to Cassel that she can embody the White Swan and the Black Swan, the opposite emblems of goodness and deviousness that power the opera’s narrative. Enter a liberated ingenue (Mila Kunis), who, along with the incessant pestering of Nina’s overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), threaten to derail not only her chances of leading the production, but of even keeping her sanity intact.

Both a deeply Freudian melodrama and a body-horror nightmare, Black Swan is anything but subtle. It delights not exactly in surprising the audience with narrative twists – within the first five minutes, there isn’t much guesswork as to where this is all headed – but it just how far over the top Aronofsky is willing to push his performers and material. Where The Wrestler distanced itself from wrestling’s theatricality in order to provide a lucid behind-the-scenes feel, Black Swan embraces ballet’s inherent sense of distortion and weds it to the pressures of performance; the dividing line between subject and performer is erased. The sickening sound effects and bodily contortions that litter the movie are equally likely to arise from a landing gone wrong as they are from Nina’s tortured visions.

In a perfectly cast role, Portman dominates and drives the film, keeping pace with Aronofsky’s demented energy. Nina is sympathetic, but also fickle, petulant, and deeply disturbed, and it’s difficult to imagine another young actress who could have sold the part so unselfconsciously. It’s as tailor-made to her fussy demeanor and diminutive physique as The Wrestler‘s Randy was for Mickey Rourke’s mush-mouthed charm and battle scars. The rest of the cast is similarly fitting but naturally plays second fiddle: Cassel and Kunis are well within their wheelhouses playing slimy and sleek, respectively, while Hershey, always a welcome presence, has the somewhat thankless role of the meddling stage mom, but effortlessly develops an intimate sense both or rivalry and kinship with her troubled daughter.

In keeping Black Swan deeply unironic and broadly executed, Aronofsky risks alienating the critics who came onboard for the more “tasteful” Wrestler after the excesses of his more divisive earlier films, especially the amibitious Fountain. They’ll be missing the point, and the sheer enjoyment of a director firing on all cylinders. It’s garish, exciting, and destined to be adored by midnight-movie misfits for years to come, even as high-minded critical gatekeepers will likely miss the point and be left shaking their heads at its straightforward commitment to its own roaring psychosis.

– Simon Howell

Previous





10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
Business man watching business go bankrupt
25 Iconic Companies that Filed for Bankruptcy
20 Different Types of Balloons
12 Different Types of Tubas (Plus Interesting Facts)
Minivan loaded with beach stuff for day at the beach
The Ultimate Beach Checklist When Taking Young Kids to the Beach
Boy playing a trombone
10 Different Types of Trombones (Plus Fun Facts)
20 Different Types of Limes
Table with a variety of nuts in bowls
20 Most Popular Types of Nuts (with Nutrition Fact Charts)
Bowl of cooked broccoli with walnuts
20 Types of Broccoli
12 Ideal Alternatives to Butter
Motorhome on highway going through Bryce Canyon in the USA
13 Types of RV’s (Recreational Vehicles) for All Kinds of Vacation Fun
Mechanic working on car in garage
10 Gift Ideas for Mechanics (Under $20, $50, $100 and $200)
A mechanic is repairing a car brake.
5 Different Types of Brake Pads and 6 Different Types of Brakes
9 Cool Minivan Alternatives
Baseball player hitting ball
10 Types of Baseball Bats that Rip the Leather Off the Ball
16 Types of Barbells for All Types of Lifts and Workouts
Basketball player slam dunking
29 Great Gift Ideas for Basketball Players (Under $20, $50, $100 and $200)
Oceanside golf course at sunset
22 of the Best Online Golf Stores
Inside a beautiful spa business
6 Capabilities the Best Spa Scheduling and Business Software Should Have
Ballet dancers in a dance studio
7 Features of the Best Dance Studio Business Software (Checklist)
Massage therapy clinic
7 Types of Massage Therapist Software for Growing the Business
10 Features the Best Hair Salon Scheduling Business Software Offer (Checklist)
Natural herbal vitamins.
10 of the Best Online Vitamin Stores
>