Black Swan is my favorite movie of the year. I admit I did have high hopes for the film, but any hopes I had were far exceeded. Director Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 release Requiem For a Dream might very well be my favorite movie of all time so I was eager to see his newest flick.
Much like RFAD, Black Swan is like watching a car crash. An over-used anaology, I admit, but I’ve been racking my mind for another way to describe it and I just can’t seem to come up with a better one. It’s most appropriate because, almost from the start, the viewer knows the story will not end well. In Black Swan we know lead character Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) will not live happily ever after.
I’m truly amazed with how far Aronofsky pushed his actors/actresses in this film (Two particularly uncomfortable sexual scenes featuring Portman come to mind). But it’s important to note that nothing in this film was overdone or produced to the point of being overdramatic. Had this simply been a story about a normal gal fighting to get the lead role in a ballet, many of the dramatics in this film would be extraneous. It’s the psychological element in Black Swan that calls for the said dramatics (i.e. supernatural effects and disturbing imagery).
I’d even be willing to argue that, much like Requiem, this is more of a character study than a plot-driven movie. Sure there is a definite storyline, but Aronofsky seems to want to put the viewer in the mind of Sayers more so than to tell her story. He succeeds at this via cinematographer Matthew Libatique (who also worked on Requiem). Awkwardly tight facial shots are used during dialogue sequence with equivalent amounts of awkwardness. Beautifully smooth camerawork during dance sequences puts the viewer on stage alongside the dancers (Which reminds me, hats off to the actors and actresses that had to acquire the skills and grace of the ballerinas they portrayed for these roles.). And the camera work done during the club scene is so perfectly reminiscent of an intoxicated haziness we’ve all experienced on at least one occasion.
Not a fan of ballet? Neither am I. If you’re a fan of excellent cinema and enthralling storylines, then I highly recommend you see this flick. And, if you don’t care to take my recommendation, you might be interested to know that Black Swan was recently nominated for a Golden Globe Best Picture award.