Friday, May 11, 2012

Film Review--Black Swan

starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassell, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, and Ice Cube as The Beav

A timid ballet dancer (Portman) has dermatillomania and an unbalanced and domineering mother (Hershey).  But things aren't all bad.  The dancer wins the lead role in "Swan Lake" based upon her ability to play the innocent Princess Odette.  However, things go from bad to worse as she falls into the dark side of the character, Odile, and she gradually loses her mind, fearing that a sexy rival dancer (Kunis) is trying to steal the role.

Black Swan is so...beautifully disturbing.  Then again, I should have expected nothing less from director Darren Aronofsky, the man who brought us Pi.  He appears to specialize in dark films about the human mind unraveling and questioning the very nature of reality...or at least the manner in which the individual perceives it.  This is a triumph of a film that really has so much going for it.  The striking visage of Natalie Portman in the black swan make up (how this film was not nominated for Best Make-Up, I'll never know), the use of the camera in manner on par with Stanley Kubrick, the eerie use of the Tchaikovsky score, the...distortions...I don't know how else to say but you'll recognize what I'm speaking of one you see them.  I know I'm going to take heat for this but Natalie Portman deserved every bit of her Best Actress award by giving a performance that ranges from sweet, to unnerving, and finally to heartbreaking.

That's right.  No spoilers, but if you know anything about the ballet Swan Lake and the parallels Aronofsky is making, you know that this can't end well. I just wasn't sure how he was going to get us to that point.  Aronofsky just keeps twisting and layering, building a menacing tone that utters sibilants the whole way like a lit fuse on a powerful pyrotechnic.  This is an art film that is as much paint on canvas as it is image on screen.  This is a psychological thriller with an ominous mystery at its heart.  This is a grim meditation full of existential angst as a young woman constantly questions herself and the validity of her senses.  This is a film with absolutely bonerific scenes of the ever so hot Natalie Portman.

This one is definitely joining my DVD collection.

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