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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Saint Louis, Missouri

    FILM REVIEW: Black Swan

    A tale of obsession and mental breakdown in the world of ballet...

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    Opening in St. Louis today (and opening wider on Dec 22), Black Swan is a psychological thriller and the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky, whose previous films include Pi, The Fountain, The Wrestler, and the cult hit Requiem for a Dream. The film itself is based on an original idea he had that dates back almost ten years with the intent of always being a starring vehicle for Natalie Portman.

    Portman plays a ballet dancer named Nina Sayers who is struggling not only with the pressure of competing for a place in the New York City ballet elite but also with the thought of losing her chance to debut due to her increasing age, all the while hounded by her over-obsessive mother (Barbara Hershey). As the announcement comes for the new season and a re-imagining of the classic Swan Lake, Nina gets her chance as former prima dancer Beth is forced into retirement leaving a position open for a new lead. At the same time a new dancer named Lily (Mila Kunis) is brought in from California to fill in a position and Nina is immediately intrigued and threatened by the newcomer. While edging out her competition, Nina struggles between her need for perfection in dance with her inability to let loose, a problem that could cause her to lose the role. As pressure and tension heightens and Mina’s hallucinations become more frequent and real, she (and the audience} begins to question where reality ends and her deluded fantasies begin.

    The biggest concept driving the story in the film is that of duality and the thought of someone having a “doppelganger” or opposite self. This is shown not only by Mina’s delusions of a dark self and her eventual transformation into the “Black Swan” but also her rivalry/friendship with fellow dancer lily who embodies the dark side she aims to attain in her quest to be prefect in her performance and technique. Aside from this it’s interesting to note the parallels between this film and Darren’s last film The Wrestler. The director himself has said he sees this as a companion film, dealing with the physical and mental stress of performers in different artistic settings.

    Many of the special effects are so minuscule they are barely noticeable but succeed in being off-putting and quirky and reinforce the notion of duality. One such scene involves Nina and Lily in a rave club after taking acid and the quick-cutting and strobe lights almost hide the fact that the two girls almost merge into one person at various points.

    The film itself is easily one of the director’s best and one of the best films of the year and is already getting a lot of Oscar buzz. Natalie Portman’s performance should also net her at least a best actress nomination, as her ability to convey the shattering of the dancer’s mind and dual-persona is, as Nina says in the final moments of the film, “perfect”.

    Black Swan is Rated R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use.

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