Black Swan

In recent years Darren Aronofsky has been making power house movies.  On a low budget, Aronofsky’s films are character driven all the way through award season.  His newest film has been advertised as the sister film to last year’s The Wrestler.   Black Swan is set  during the production of  the New York City Ballet’s Swan Lake.  Natilie Portman stars a Nina, a shy young company member who stays dedicated to her role all the way through to the end.  The movie follows her commitment and transition from beautiful White Swan to the twisted Black Swan.  The movie revolves around her changing relationship with director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), her mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) and rebellious company dancer Lily (Mina Kunis).

The style of the film is very much like that of The Wrestler.  The plot is the main character.  That’s not to say that the other roles were underwhelming but to say that it is solely focused on Nina.  With this said Natalie Portman was phenomenal.  Without giving away the ending, her performance is not spectacular till the final scene.  It all comes together in that final moment. In the past we have seen Portman as a strong well spoken women, Padme Amidala from Star Wars and Evey Hammond in V for Vendetta.  This movie is a departure from that.  Nina starts as an introverted girl who never speaks more than a whisper, killing herself to be perfect.  Over the movie she starts to change in a way not unlike her character.  Her transition has earned her a Globe nomination for Best Dramatic Actress and plenty of Oscar buzz.

The breakout star of this film was Mila Kunis.  Her Lily was the antonym for Portman’s Nina.  It is interesting to see Kunis is a different setting.  You may know her from That’s 70 Show or even the voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy.  A dramatic role like this is a enjoyed diversion.  Her role as wild child is not so different from what she’s probably use to but it is interesting to see her career move towards more acclaimed films.  Her performance has already garnered her a Globe nomination for Best Supporting Dramatic Actress.

As the title should proclaim, their is a dark side to this film.  Billed as a psychological thriller the film has more twists and hallucinations than a trip.  Nina suffers from hallucinations and self mutilation at the horror of her over bearing mother.    Be prepared to jump and to look away at some of the more gore filled scenes.  The question at the end is how many of these were real or imaginary.

Most big budget blockbusters have a definitive ending with the main character walking into the sunset.  This year i have started to notice a growing tendency to leave the ending up for debate. Again i will spare the details for those who have now watched it but we have seen this in Inception and in The Wrestler.  By leaving a film with a cliffhanger, the director extends the life of the film.  It leaves the audience members to really analysis and critically think about what they just saw.  I prefer these thought provoking films because it allows for a discussion and an extension of the 12 or so dollars you just spent seeing it.

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