Monday, December 27, 2010

Black Swan review

In Black Swan, the difficulties that Nina faces to embody the black swan proves to be a very emotionally challenging experience. Living in the world of ballet, her whole life revolves around becoming the swan queen and with a very tough, demanding ballet teacher watching her every step of the way, the transformation process turns into both a physical and psychological process.

All of these things is perfectly captured in a performance that will, without a doubt, garner Natalie Portman a ton of awards, including the Oscar for best actress. It's funny, I was reading some dumb article in the National Enquirer the other day about how Natalie Portman was "jealous" of Mila Kunis because Mila was getting more attention for her performance than Natalie was. Well, allow me to be the first to call "bullshit" on that. While Mila Kunis's performance is pretty good, how can you deny the brilliance that is Natalie Portman's performance in this film. She goes above and beyond anything else she's done before and proves that she's one of the best actresses working in (and outside) of Hollywood today.

Of course, I remember having an awfully similar attitude towards Mickey Rourke's performance in "The Wrestler" which was directed by Darren Aronofsky as well. Before "The Wrestler," Aronofsky proved that he was a master behind the camera and aside from a great performance by Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem for a Dream," the performances in his films were not the first thing I thought about after I watched one of his films. "The Wrestler" showed, however, that not only does he have the talent behind the camera, he's probably the best director working today in terms of getting great performances from his actors. "Black Swan" was perfectly cast all around with Barbara Hershey playing Nina's mother, and Vincent Cassel playing the dancing instructor. There's also a very memorable performance from Winona Ryder as the former great ballet dancer who has been forced to retire. But Natalie Portman is the centerpiece of it all and the combination of her performance and the claustrophobic environment that Aronofsky puts her in makes for one of the most intense cinema experiences of the year. While he carefully constructs this film and leaves his biggest surprises for the end, the whole film is very intense to watch and seeing some of the sexual scenes on display in a big theater may be a bit awkward to watch.

That's the magic and brilliance of "Black Swan" though. The film thrusts you into the psychologically demanding world of ballet and doesn't let up for two hours. Clint Mansell's score is also perfect. It wonderfully punctuates every scene and doubles the intensity of this film. The fact that his score has been disqualified from the Academy Awards is a disgrace and they should be ashamed of themselves and realize that their rules are stupid and oftentimes the best score of the year does not win because of their rules.

Black Swan is a completely unpredictable cinema experience. You don't want to know what happens next, but you have to watch because you're so riveted. Aronofsky is at the top of his game. His talents have been fully realized in this film. Everything that's great about him as a filmmaker is on full display in Black Swan. Black Swan is the best film of the year.

Rating: 10/10

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