Monday, December 13, 2010

Black Swan is one major head trip and one of the year's best.

Black Swan

Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

Writers: Mark Heyman, Andres Heins, and John L Mclaughlin

Director: Darren Aronofsky

**** out of four

(Theatrical Poster:  Curtosey: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

The quest for perfection is always met with perils and obstacles for everyone when trying to achieve their goal. Nina Sayers(Portman) has one such goal, to be the lead in the ballet “Swan Lake” The play’s director Thomas Leroy(Vincent Cassel) knows that Nina has the skill to play both the swan queen and her evil sister the black swan, but lacks the passion and sexuality to perform the latter. She must be able to seduce the crowd just as the black swan is to seduce her sister’s lover away from her. The girl who may be able to do this is  newcomer Lily(Mila Kunis). She has the same look as Nina, and similar dance skills, but has more sex appeal and confidence which could win her the lead role.  Self doubt leads to a chain of events where Nina no longer recognizes her own self

This is a movie all done through Nina’s perspective. Not just what she sees around her, but what she thinks and feels as well.  A movie like this may be confusion to watch because we are never shown the actually reality of what happens, only of what she actually sees.  Director Arronofsky used this same type of story with his first movie "Pi".   There is a lot of symbolism around the notion of mirrors and how reality and images can be altered. “Black Swan” by all accounts is an art movie and like all pieces of art it comes down to how each individual sees it. I don’t expect this movie to a huge blockbuster, but I do believe that this will remain a classic.

(Photo:  Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Director Arronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique shot the entire movie with handheld cameras which not only makes the ballet sequences more interesting to watch, but it helps with keeping the movie from Nina’s perspective as well. The entire supporting cast also does a good job with a very strong performance from Mila Kunis. I know her from her roles on “Family Guy” and “That 70’s Show” as well as a string of supporting roles in recent comedies and standard action movies. This would be her first role in a serious drama and she does a damn good job. Vincent Cassel is an actor who continues getting roles in both here and in his native France. He has appeared in the controversial movie "Irreversible", and voiced a character in the animated family movie “Shrek”. Although he can speak in both English and French. He never appears to have an accent.  Natalie Portman just shines in this performance, and I stress the word performance.  She put blood sweat and tears into this role and if she doesn't receive some awards I will be shocked and highly upset.  


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