Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Black Swan: A Dizzying Mix of Dreams and Reality


**Spoiler Free Review**

After seeing Black Swan, I've gotta say I'm SO glad that my parents let me quit ballet when I did.  Director Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, The Wrestler) shows us that ballet is pain; both physically and more importantly, emotionally.  In his over-the-top artistic endeavor, Aronofsky takes us on the journey of Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballet dancer in one the most prestigious companies headed by the oh-so-pretentious director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel).  Although I'm not familiar with Cassel's work, he had quite the presence on screen and there was feeling of familiarity and comfort watching him.  Which makes sense given his extensive career spanning well over a decade.  We watch as Portman's character struggles in the lead role of the Swan Queen not only on the stage, but off it as well.




Nina's battle with fellow dancer Lilly, played Mila Kunis, is truly entertaining.  Kunis has some hilarious lines including one about that epic sex scene that by now we've all heard of.  "Was I good?" Kunis comments after Portman attempts to talk about the situation with her after the fact.

However, Winona Ryder really stole the show as the old hag of a dancer at the age of 40 something and proves why she is such a fantastic veteran actress.  Although she doesn't say much throughout the film, she doesn't have to.  Ryder has this incredible way of just saying it all with a stone cold stare.

My only real bone to pick with the film is that it is outrageously over the top.  Emotions are heightened and almost every shot is composed of black and white, right down to how the characters dress throughout 80 percent of the movie!  For some, that may be the charm of the film.  Also, the film doesn't come into its own until halfway through.  But when it does, it is great.  Portman really commands the role of the Black Swan and that, is where the magic lies in the film.  So this big question, is this thing worth all the Oscar buzz it's been receiving?  When a director leaves us floating between the dream world and reality the way Aronofsky has, I have to say yes, it most definitely is worth all that buzz.  I give Black Swan a solid B+.

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