January 19, 2011

Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010) [review time]

Another visually intense film from Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream. I made the mistake of assuming this film would be more mainstream and therefore less horrifying than Requiem, but this film definitely goes just as far to push you to your limits. Before seeing it, a friend described it to me as "hypersexual", and I have to agree with that. It left me a little bit afraid to be alone with myself, to be honest. An excellent psychological thriller to follow my Fight Club review. This is another film that I will pretend is anywhere close to science fiction because the psychological is manifested in reality in a stunning, yet fantastic way.

To address a concern many of the fellows might have, I dragged my boyfriend to see this film with promises that it would be as incredible as Requiem, and he agrees with me that about halfway in it doesn't matter that it's a movie about ballet. Just in case you were worried. The music and dance really added visually to a great story, and I probably don't have to mention the parallels to the ballet of the swan queen or the black and white imagery. The ballet allows Aronofsky to continue to plague his films with stark and artistic images. He pulled it off beautifully.

I won't give a plot synopsis because there are excellent ones all over the internet. What I will say is that while you know the basic story, you will be shocked at where it takes you. From the trailer, I thought I knew where this was going, but felt it would still be worth the ride. It turns out I was wrong, and without spoilers, let me just say that to enjoy this film thoroughly, forget everything you saw in the trailer and go at it anew. Watch Nina closely for the effect each subtle event has on her, and forget what the reviews have told you is going to happen.

This is a movie about what can happen to a sweet girl in a viscous, competitive world, and I don't just mean the ballet. Nina is unnaturally innocent for her age, to the point of being emotionally immature, and the controlling forces in her life cause her to break free in a dark way that goes beyond what is expected for rebellious little girls. She becomes the Black Swan because it is expected of her to shed her innocence as she comes of age, but at the same time, her mother exerts a suffocated control over her, expecting her to be a child forever, and even Thomas, the artistic director of the show, is controlling while he pretends to free her. He has control over her sexuality as he forces her into an unhealthy relationship of the strong dominating over the weak.

A great story of the mind, with excellent art direction and a very imaginative manifestation of the psyche. It's been a long time since a movie has glued me to the screen to the extent that I can forget my own existence for the entire third act.


  1. Imagine my horror when I realised your phrase "excellent ones" didn't link back to me.

  2. Thanks for reading. Your post went beyond simple plot synopsis, but now you've got yourself a nice linkback :)