Black Swan

  • 2011-02-23
  • By Laurence Boyce

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Touted as a companion piece to his critically acclaimed film “The Wrestler,” Darren Aronofsky’s latest film is a strange blend of ballet drama and psychological horror that has divided audiences across the world. Indeed, for some it’s a searing insight into a fractured psyche that’s reminiscent of such films as “Rosemary’s Baby.” For others it’s an exercise in overwrought melodrama that adds in dashes of pure stupidness. As often with these things, you can take a little from Column A and a little from Column B after seeing “Black Swan.”

Ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is picked for the role of the Swan Queen much to the shock and delight of her domineering – and ex-ballet star – mother (Ellen Burstyn). But Thomas Leroy, the director of the ballet company, wants Nina to start exploring her darker side: she’s perfect when she’s playing the innocent White Swan but when she has to perform as the Black Swan her passion is somewhat lacking. As she reaches further into her dark side, her life begins to spiral out of control. And then there’s the question of new ballet dancer Lily – just how does she fit into the proceedings and just how similar is she to Nina?

Aronofsky has created an astonishingly beautiful film with careful set design, stunning costumes and some quite amazing cinematography. Certainly, the film invites you into a painstakingly constructed world in which identity is fluid and dreams and reality are intertwined, and the creation of this world alone is an astounding achievement. The acting, too, is superb with Portman sure to be winning many awards and Burstyn yet another excellent psycho mother of which there is a proud tradition in cinema history.

But how much you accept this world depends on how much you are prepared to accept the story which, even for those totally embroiled in the world of the film, can drift into the realms of the ridiculous. Those who like their cinema straight and to the point will find this a chore. But for those who enjoy it when film can explore states of mind in an abstract way, this is bold and provocative filmmaking

Now showing  in all three countries.


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