INTERN’S VIEW: In Only One Word, Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’ Is Perfect

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by Philip Benais

Black Swan; Directed By Darren Aronofsky: Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.

Terrifying. Thrilling. Sensual. Psychotic; these words, among many more describe Darren Aronofsky’s work of art Black Swan. Even though I knew beforehand I would love this film, what I saw in the theatre both compelled and disgusted me. I wanted to look away but was so captivated and mesmerized that I could only stare slack jawed at something I would need to see again and again, if only to satisfy a certain dark impulse.

It’s no secret if you know me that I LOVE Darren Aronofsky’s films. Much like Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, Andrei Tarkovsky or Christopher Nolan, anything the man directs I will love. I even championed The Fountain when people called it mental masturbation and I was shocked that Mickey Rourke didn’t receive the Oscar he deserved for The Wrestler. With Black Swan, Aronofsky has done the seemingly impossible. He took simplicity and gave us complexity. He took light and gave us darkness…but most importantly he took our expectations and shattered them.

Black Swan follows the journey of Nina Sayers, (played to perfection by Natalie Portman) a fragile, innocent dancer who is cast in a new production of Swan Lake by Thomas Leroy, (the wonderful Vincent Cassel) her company’s director. Thomas casts her knowing that The White Swan would be no problem for Nina, but he pushes her into ‘letting go’ and embodying both the gentle White Swan and the sinister Black Swan. This is the crux of the film, the apex upon which all symbolic, metaphorical and literal satisfaction derives from. The premise of Nina’s metamorphosis from the delicate girl she is, to the daring girl she must become in order to beat out the competition (Mila Kunis) and be perfect in a world that seeks nothing else. It dabbles in the premise of the doppelganger as well as cleverly alluding to a work from Dostoevsky. In short, it’s downright genius.

What cinches the entire thing of course is Natalie Portman, in one of the best performances I’ve seen all year. I haven’t been moved by a performance like this in a very long time and who better to do it than one of my favorite actresses? The supporting cast only enhance the experience, be it the manipulative director, Nina’s ‘competition’ or her overbearing mother, played to a tee by Barbara Hershey. The tension in the film will have you gripping the armrests, but the few moments of levity will lull you into a false sense of calm. This is a psychological thriller taken to the extreme and the result in the hands of  a master like Aronofsky are breathtaking.

In a way, I would agree with Aronofsky when he said that Black Swan is a companion piece to his previous film The Wrestler. Whereas that film dealt with redemption, pride and family, Black Swan deals with obsession, loneliness and insanity all within the context of a ballet company. In only one word, Black Swan is perfect. A disturbing trend I’ve found in the two times I’ve seen this film however is people chuckling at moments they don’t understand or think would be better with explosions and breasts. This is not a film for the Roland Emmerich crowd who think the bigger the CGI bill the better. This is a challenging film that demands your attention and understanding but rewards you with beauty and abject terror. Don’t miss this film; skip the latest Hollywood crowd-pleasing nonsense and head on over to a showing of Black Swan. It will be worth whatever you pay to see it and I guarantee you’ll love it. Bravo Darren Aronofsky, Bravo.

(I would also like to wish the readers of B-Town Blog a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Thanks for reading and I hope to stay for as long as I can!)

Rating: ***** / *****


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.

Read more of his work here.]

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