Superb. Clichéd. Brilliant. Hokey. People seem to either fall in love with or laugh their balls off when it comes to Black Swan. I'm in the first camp. Darren Aronofsky's latest film just might be his finest as far as I'm concerned, and from the director of Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, that's saying something.
|Matilda, on meth.|
I'm usually hesitant when saying this, but everything about Black Swan is damn near flawless. Portman's tragic portrayal of Nina is easily her greatest performance to date, and Mila Kunis shines as Lily, the anti-Nina whose raw exuberance serves as one of the great catalyst for the films twisted plot. Aronofsky's use of hand held cameras provides the audience with a chilling, fly on the wall perspective yet simultaneously enhances the mania that ensues as Nina struggles with internal/external forces to become the Swan Queen. Oh yeah, and the dance sequences are amazing. The swooping camera work during these shots made me feel like I was on an insane roller coaster ride, while the booming score (the film's music mixed with elements of Tchaikovsky's original Swan Lake) creates the most heart palpitating soundtrack I've heard all year.
Some people might respond differently however. There were individuals who scoffed at the absurdity transpiring on screen. Perhaps they found Aronofsky's use of CGI gratuitous? I didn't. Maybe they expected a straight up ballerina catfight drama and got what cinealogue.com called, "...Showgirls meets Fight Club on crazy pills." As for me, well given Aronofsky's history of mind-fuckery (Pi, The Fountain, Requiem) I just threw my hands up and tossed any preconceptions to the wind and let Black Swan warp my brain and thoroughly kick my ass. Yes, that's right, a movie about a couple of 5'3 ballerinas kicked my ass. I laughed, I cringed (quite often) but mostly, I sat with my mouth aghast, marveling at the awesome slab of cinema unfolding before me. Film of the year? I think so.