Black Swan is one of the best movies of the year without a doubt. Darren Aronofsky has crafted a masterpiece. This movie is full of wonderful performances and a solid story that chills you to the bone. I can see Black Swan getting a few Oscar nominations (best picture, best actress, best supporting actress, best director). All of those nominations would be very much earned and deserved. I think I can go out on a limb here and say that Aronofsky is one of the best modern directors and each film he makes just helps prove it.
The story of Black Swan is simple, but complex at the same time. It lingers on several layers of perception. You have the top layer, which consists of everything you think is really happening, and then you have the bottom layer which is in the mind of Natalie Portman‘s character, Nina. It originally starts out as bad dreams. Nina keeps waking up after these really creepy dreams wondering what they mean, but as the movie progresses these dreams sort of mix in with reality, which is what makes this so enjoyable. There are several parts in the film where I asked myself what the heck was happening. Is this real, or is this part of her insanity? Black Swan is about a ballet dancer who wants the lead role in the play Swan Lake. She is very determined and thrives on perfection. She has showed her talent again and again and the director only sees one side. She has the role of the white swan down perfectly, but it’s the black swan that she needs to grasp. She is told to let go of her perfection and feel the role of the black swan. Now as this happens we are taken on a wild ride as Nina starts to blend her reality and insanity. There are several graphic moments in this film that really shows how crazy she is. It has that perfect balance of a dark and gritty documentary crossed with an excellent horror. This isn’t the type of horror that just gives you random scenes of blood or gore, it’s the type that is used to make you feel uncomfortable and in some cases scared. The images are so shocking and really make the experience much more real. To say anything else as far as the story goes would be a spoiler. What makes this so awesome is following her journey into the dark abyss. If I were to talk about it more I feel that I would deprive the viewer of what’s so special. All I can say about the story is that it’s unique and perfectly executed. Aronofsky shows you behind the curtain of ballet and he shows you everything, even if you don’t want to see it.
The main actresses in this film are Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Natalie has earned her Oscar here; she plays the role so perfectly. So controlling and perfect that it’s sick. You can’t help but to feel bad for her as all she wants is this lead role in Swan Lake. She will do whatever it takes, which is her characters biggest weakness. Mila Kunis‘ character helps expose the weakness even more to the point of no return. Kunis plays a darker role than her normal self. She acts as that friend who just wants to help you and at the same time replace you. Portman perceives her as replacing her. She barely sees anything good in Kunis and it leads to several confrontations, now that isn’t to say that maybe Kunis’s character really is just a helping friend. Since we are seeing the movie through the eyes of Portman we really see a blurry image of who Kunis really is. They both play the opposites perfectly and I feel that Aronofsky knew that this natural relationship would be the strong point of the film.
The image and music is yet another thing I want to quickly touch on. This movie is shot like most of Aronofskys recent films, with a grainer camera that brings out the dark and washed out colors. Several scenes consist of a camera following directly behind Portman as if it’s a real life documentary. I think that it works for the most part as it helps make the film feel more realistic. The color pallet is mostly full of blacks, whites, and grays, which really sets the tone. Towards the end we are given some red that really brightens the scenes. The music follows that same tone. It’s dark and sinister. Something is slowly brooding over the film and the music helps bring that out. Finally, the credits roll and you feel like the journey is over and everything is brought full circle.
Overall, Black Swan is a work of art. It’s dark and deep, full of emotion and directed to perfection. Aronofsky has proved again that he can make anything into a powerful and fresh story. I never thought that I would enjoy a movie about a ballet dancer going crazy, but when put in the right hands, anything is possible. I strongly recommend you take a trip to the theater and see this before it’s gone.
Black Swan – 9.5/10