Viewed – 07 February 2011 Cinema
This has gained quite a lot of attention during the run up to the awards season, with star Natalie Portman tipped for a clean sweep. She stars as virginal ballet dancer Nina, desperate to land the lead role in a grand staging of Swan Lake. With aspirations to step into the recently vacated shoes of former star Beth (Winona Ryder) whilst all too aware of envious glances from young new comer Lilly (Mila Kunis). Yet she has to impress director Thomas (Vincent Cassel), whose methods to bring out the perfect performance from Nina border on sexual harassment.
Darren Aronofsky’s intimate and beautifully shot movie is part emotional drama and part surreal creepshow, as Nina’s desperation to impress has detrimental effects on her sanity, and soon her world is falling apart and the line between reality and nightmarish fantasy begins to blur. It’s sad, uplifting, sexy and genuinely scary, and Aronofsky’s direction captures every moment beautifully, building to a crescendo of emotions for a truly stunning conclusion. Portman is remarkable, and never before have I seen such power and talent exude from one actress – she really deserves the Oscar, the Bafta and anything else that comes her way. Also Barbara Hershey’s over-bearing mother is both disturbing and creepy, echoing Piper Laurie’s brilliant turn as Carrie’s mother back in the 70s. I must also say for the brief time she appears, Winona Ryder is very good and also brave considering the part seems very close to her own fall from grace. Mila Kunis is gorgeously manipulative, but can’t really hold a candle to Portman, and Vincent Cassel’s director is perfectly sleazy also.
It felt similar in tone to Japanese animated thriller Perfect Blue, and as a portrait of the pressures of stardom, the fragility of the human mind and as a sheer work of art, this fires on all sillinders and could very easily become my movie of 2011.
Verdict: 5 /5
- New Featurette on BLACK SWAN Director Darren Aronofsky (collider.com)
- Natalie Portman finally “reconciled” with career (omg.yahoo.com)
- “Black Swan” and related posts (irishblogs.ie)