At its heart, Black Swan is a “descent into madness” film, not unlike American Psycho or almost anything that stars Sam Neil (In the Mouth of Madness, Event Horizon). But instead of an unhinged male actor taking the lead, Natalie Portman is able to showcase her acting chops. Finally, an exceptional role for a female in a genre film. And Portman gives the role her absolute best in a performance of a lifetime.
Nina (Portman) is a beautiful young ballet dancer with aspirations to reach the highest peaks in her world. But she is as beautiful as she is reserved and frigid. Her uptightness and inability to let herself go are the only things holding her back from being one of the best. Enter Lily (Mila Kunis), a free-spirited and carefree dancer new to Nina’s ballet company. She’s the exact opposite of Nina in almost every way. Lily is the perfect contrast to everything Nina stands for and, predictably, is the enabler who leads Nina down a dark and twisted path of self exploration.
Swan Lake is a chick flick, but it’s unlike any other. For starters, there aren’t any desperate Amy Adams types who have crappy boyfriends and eventually meet a wonderful tall dark stranger on the way to finding true love. Nope. No bullsh*t laden sappy sh*t here. But for every girl who grew up dreaming of being a ballerina, just as many guys grew up wanting to see Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis doing dirty things to each other. Which, of course happens. Because of that, I am going to go out on a limb and say this the date movie of the year. Really.
The first hour of the film is interesting, but lacks a little umph. But the film round into gear and puts together just about the finest last acts of any film I have seen this year. I was nearly breathless. The beauty. The cinematography. The music. The direction. The story. All of it comes together in near perfect harmony, making up for (and then some) any shortcomings the film may have. It’s impressive filmmaking to say the least. The Oscar for Portman is a done deal – no performance has come close in years. And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it gets a nod for best film as well.
I love Aronofksy’s films, everything from the immortal Requiem for a Dream to The Wrestler to my personal favorite, The Fountain. Black Swan won’t top the list as my new favorite, but it’s another excellent film in the canon of one of the finest living directors.
Snore Factor: Z