Black Swan. Everyone in this movie is crazy, that’s the first thing you need to know.
The second thing you need to know is that this is a gorgeous movie but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
For those of you familiar with director Darren Aronofsky, this shouldn’t be a surprise. The director has five commercial films under his belt and they’ve all received critical acclaim. He started in ’98 with “Pi” and then followed that up with the cult favorite “Requiem for a Dream,” which was innovative in both style and content. “Requiem” didn’t take you into the world of drug addiction as an outside observer, but the film really made you a part of the experience, seeing the world as they saw the world.
My favorite Aronofsky movie was “The Fountain,” starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. Not a lot of people have seen “The Fountain” but it is truly a spectacular movie. It follows three men (one in pre-colonial Spain, one in current day, and one in the distant future), all played by Jackman. They all follow the story of this man trying to save the life of his dying wife. The story is breathtaking but again Aronofsky managed to use visual effects in a subtle way that helped to accenuate the world that these characters lived in, without seeming too far-fetched.
Since “The Fountain,” Aronofsky also directed “The Wrestler,” which I’ve yet to see. Anyone have thoughts on “The Wrestler”?
And now here we are at Black Swan. Without spoilers, it’s the story of a ballet dancer (Natalie Portman) who is asked to play two roles in a ballet, one of the pure white swan, and its evil and seductive twin, the black swan. Her real life transformation mirrors these two characters as she tries to discover the black swan inside her.
True to form, Aronofsky pulls you into this world and you see the world as Natalie Portman does. Her life was pure and stable before this point and we get to see her world gradually fall apart and become what the black swan stands for (chaos, seduction, and other debauchery).
Natalie Portman is incredible. She has played a lot of “girl next door” roles and it’s great to see her spread her wings (pun intended) in this role. Mila Kunis didn’t play nearly as large of a part as I expected, though she does serve as the catalyst in Portman’s transformation.
One warning though. This movie isn’t a feel good movie. There are some scenes which are really tough to watch, as the lines between her mind and reality blur together. There is also a fair amount of sexual content, so this isn’t a movie to sit down with your grandma to watch together.
This is a beautiful film but I can’t recommend it for everyone. It’s dark and tragic. But the journey to this dark climax is a beautiful one, in terms of emotion and style. Aronofsky again utilizes visual effects to show just how Natalie Portman’s sense of reality is becoming shattered. If you’re okay with a dark but emotionally charged film, I would definitely rent it. If you’d like a taste of Aronofsky without all the risks, try renting “The Fountain” and see if his style suits you.