So this past Tuesday I went with one of my friends to see Black Swan, the Darren Aronofsky-directed film that’s been generating a lot of buzz going into the 2011 awards season. I was kind of skeptical, I’ll admit. The last movies that I saw in the theatre were Little Fockers and Harry Potter 7, so that should indicate where my cinematic tastes lie. Pretty much on par with those of a 12 year old. From the trailer alone, this movie looked intense, but it was nowhere near the actually level of crazy it turned out to be.
Starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder (there she is!), Black Swan follows the trials of Nina (Portman), a ballerina who is cast as the Swan Queen in her ballet company’s production of Swan Lake. Now doesn’t this sound like a completely non-life scarring kind of plot? Wrong. So wrong. Throughout the course of the film, we see Nina’s descent into insanity as she copes with portraying all of the seductive energy the Black Swan possesses, while fearing that another dancer, Lily (Kunis) is after her role. Nina’s self doubt and paranoia are worsened at home by her obsessive, former dancer of a mother (Hershey), who devotes an entire room to her paintings of Nina and who coddles her adult daughter, confining her to a room that remains sickeningly childlike. There seems to be no boundaries in this mother-daughter relationship and it just plain creeped me out. Filled with Nina’s hallucinations (for instance, that she is beginning to sprout feathers and literally, turning into a black swan) and a lot of, “did that actually happen?” moments, Black Swan is one dark, trippy film that ends with Nina’s performance of the Swan Queen, where ultimately her insanity comes to a head.
All in all, the film was great. I would highly recommend it, especially as we’ll be hearing a lot about it in the next two months or so. The performance of the actors as an ensemble was insane, especially Portman’s, who underwent a significant transformation in order to portray a prima ballerina. What I wasn’t expecting though, was all the-for lack of a better word- gore. From a broken toe nail, to Portman’s sprouting of feathers, to a particularly disturbing scene involving Winona Ryder, a nail file, and her face (yeah, I’m sure you can piece together what happened there, you’re welcome), there were a lot of face-covering moments. However, I think that these details were almost integral in creating a film that actually made you feel uneasy and unsure of what was real and what was not.
And so, before I went to sleep that night, I had to think of a way to remind myself that this was indeed, just a movie and that Natalie Portman is not a crazy woman, but rather an incredibly gifted actress who happens to be incredibly bad-ass…
Such range. Amazing.