Black Swan

December 21, 2010

In 1998, Darren Aronofsky released his first film Pi to probably a handful of movie buffs, critics and general artists at one of the many film festivals around. It deservedly gave him a place in the business, which he followed up with many well made films; Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler and now Black Swan. Many have watched his films and found the obsessive main character a reoccuring character in many of his films. Also there are characters that push the main character one way or another – generally telling them to hold on to stability rather than go deeper into their madness. Only this time it’s the other way around – we finally see a character pushing the hero deeper down the rabbit hole, further into her own madness.

As we watch Natalie Portman transform from the easy going nice girl (the White Swan in the Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake) into the seductive black swan, we watch her madness grow. Some of it is the usual Aronofsky stuff – hallucinations, dreams, delusions. Other times the thrills seem cheap, almost as if this were just a horror movie. There are some nice motifs in it. Mainly that under certain circumstances giving your all may be worth it. Along with the other side of the coin, how far are you willing to go for your dreams? I couldn’t help but see parallels to either filmmaking, or at least art in general.

While watching it, I couldn’t push away this nagging feeling that a lot of this was an homage to his other work. There are subway scenes which are reminiscent of Pi. There is a minor subplot of drug use, which was a main point in Requiem. There is the camera angle straight out of The Wrestler – we follow Natalie from almost right behind her, as she drags us along to follow her story, instead of us looking back as she follows. But comparing it to his other work will let you down, which is what I’ve come to realize. I arrogantly did that with Inception, which I now realize wasn’t trying to be Memento pt. 2. But Black Swan is like nothing out there right now, which is all I could ever ask from Aronofsky.

So if you’re a fan of his work, watch it. If you like a good, intense thriller, go see it. It is well worth it, and one of the best movies from this year.


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