Sunday, December 05, 2010

Aronofsky's Black Swan

Continues the director's exploration of the sacrifices made in the pursuit of the artifice of illusion and the toll those sacrifices take.

His last movie, The Wrestler, won great critical acclaim, especially for Mickey Rourke, and was a gritty portrayal of the abuse the body takes (here's my post on The Wrestler).

Black Swan continues this exploration of mind over matter, but incorporates some of the more surreal aspects that Aronofsky uses in some of his previous films like Pi, and Requiem for a Dream.

Natalie Portman gives a fantastic portrayal of the physical constraints that must be broken in order to dance ballet in the role of Nina, a young zealous ballet dancer who is given the lead role in Swan Lake, but is asked to convince the company's artistic director that she can play the Black Swan by letting go of herself during the dance. I suspect nominations are being prepared.

However, the psychological toll, and the presentation of that toll on the main character is not as convincing as in Aronofsky's other movies. I do not know if that is due to the actor, or to the director, but by the ending I was not entirely convinced. This may need another viewing before I fully decide.

Overall, the acting, not only Portman's but Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and even Winona Ryder, are all excellent. The cinematography, especially during the ballet practices and performances really brings home what it takes to make it appear effortless (it would be interesting to compare them with The Wrestler, or even Raging Bull), and the story all come together to make a damn fine movie.

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