Black Swan

As much as I am already a fan of Darren Aronofsky’s work and as soft a spot as I have for Mickey Rourke, I skipped The Wrestler (2008). Though I am open to being proven wrong, the more I saw of the previews, the less I thought it was my thing. Black Swan (2010) however struck me as more of a Pi with ballet and theatre instead of computers and the stock market. It turns out that my intuition was pretty much on point, at least for the latter case. Like David Cronenberg and perhaps Stanley Kubrick, Aronofsky is very adept at telling stories about obsession. To wit, Black Swan often evokes the discomfort of Kubrick and the grotesqueness of Cronenberg. That’s not to say that the film isn’t contemporary. It’s hyperfocused and claustrophobic like Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009) and oddly unsettling like Richard Kelly’s The Box (2009) or Donnie Darko (2001). Black Swan might have the best casting ever: Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey all shine in their respective roles, but the film really hinges on Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Nina, and she carries it like the beast she becomes. She is the crucible, and she makes this film unnerving, exciting, and downright scary—along with her director’s uncanny knack for pacing. Darren Aronofsky is as fearless as this film is flawless.

, 10 January 2011