Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Black Swan
Black Swan is a movie about ballet. Men and women dancing in unitards to orchestral music. Ballet. Wait…no. It’s not about ballet. It’s about the principle of morality. NO…BALLET!!! MORALITY!!! BALLET!!! I’m really of two minds on the issue.
I’m still mulling Black Swan over in my cranium, but I can tell you for sure, the movie is not about ballet. Ballet is the setting, the catalyst, and in some ways it’s a character in the story, but it certainly isn’t the story itself. The Darren Aronofsky film is a psychological drama about the duality of human nature and the extent people will go to for a modicum of success. Natalie Portman plays Nina, the White/Black Swan, who gradually moves from the light to the dark as her ambitions start to get the better of her. Nina the ballerina gets the part every dancer desires and quickly becomes the target of several people’s frustration. Frustration over a lack of passion. Frustration due to jealousy. And lastly, frustration over the changes she undergoes throughout the story.
Nina is forced to be a lot of things to a lot of different people. From one moment to the next, she has to compromise a value in order to gain a skill set, and then rinse, lather, repeat. Portman does an excellent job portraying the inner turmoil that arises in a person when they are forced to abandon their core beliefs in favor of being at the top of their game. The sadness that washes over her every time she realizes who and what she has become, is heartbreakingly depicted by Portman, who has grown so much as an actress.
No performance can be ignored, which may be attributed to Aronofsky and his prowess behind the lens, or the actors all simply brought their A-Game. Either way, every character of importance, and even some of the lesser characters, are fully realized and fleshed out on screen. Their pain is real, the animosity is tangible, and the desire is palpable. Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis each bring a unique piece to the ever changing puzzle, helping to show Nina’s descent into a place she simply cannot navigate.
It would be easy to dismiss this as a movie about ballet, the same way people dismissed The Wrestler as a film about wrestling. In both cases that is simply the surface, which gets scraped, scratched, and scraped some more. Both films are about suffering for your art and showing that in the end suffering can have consequences. If The Wrestler made your list in 2008, then you know what to expect from Black Swan and likely won’t be disappointed.
Posted on March 28, 2011, in Film Review and tagged Barbara Hershey, Benjamin Millepied, Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky, Janet Montgomery, Kristina Anapau, Ksenia Solo, Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman, Sebastian Stan, Sergio Torrado, Toby Hemingway, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.