Arty Chick and other arty-minded film folks will have to weigh in on this one, because I know (from listening to the buzz of some of my favorite and well-respected chicks and roosters) that Black Swan could potentially be described as “phenomenal”. But my description leans more toward “phenomenally twisted” and kinda creepy. So you may really, really like this movie… or really, really not like this movie.. or really, really spend a lot of time contemplating if you liked it or not. I fall into the latter category! It’s not a “mainstream” movie, but it does have the potential to cross over a bit, thanks mostly to the stunning (albeit creepy) performances by Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder.
Black Swan is dark, strange, and oddly mesmerizing. If you like other movies from director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Pi), then you’ll probably like this one too. Aronofsky creates a world of stark contrast – literally and figuratively – painting the characters and the setting in alternating shades of black and white, and then plenty of gray. It is artfully done. But you need to be in the mood for art.
Portman plays Nina, a committed-to-the-point-of-obsessed ballet dancer who finally gets her big break – a chance to play the Swan Queen in a new, innovative take on Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake. But to truly succeed in the role, Nina must learn to find and embrace her dark side. That quest leads her down a dark and twisted path that includes self-mutilation, sexual fantasy, and a kinky love scene with her main rival/frenemy (Kunis). It’s all a bit weird and trippy and depressing… and the main characters look so alike that it’s hard to tell them apart, especially in the beginning. But the dancing is captivating, the mind games are challenging, and without question, the individual performances are outstanding. Black Swan isn’t for everyone. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Natalie Portman on the short list for a ‘best actress’ nomination.