Black Swan (2010)
The Weirdest Movie of the Year....but also one of the Best.
This has got to be the weirdest damn movie I've ever freaking seen in my life.....but I wouldn't have it any other way. "Black Swan" isn't for the faint of heart, nor would I suggest it for those that fail to see the artistic side of cinema, as this movie is a work of art. Don't let the fact that it's based on a ballerina fool you either, as the story is much darker than one would have you believe. Set in New York City, Nina (Natalie Portman) is obsessed with her career in dancing, as she tries to be a perfectionist in her craft. Still living at home with her ex-ballerina mother, whom likes to control every feasible aspect of her life. Seriously, this woman takes the term, smothering, to a whole new level. To say that Nina has lived a sheltered life would be a drastic understatement. However, as luck would have it, her director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) replaces his former aging star ballerina, Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder),with Nina. Thus, she's finally given the dream role of a life time, when she's given a chance to star as the "Black Swan." Like all young girls who get to live out their dreams, Nina was just overwhelmed with joy, at first.
However, she soon comes to realize that her dream may become more than what she bargained for, as the mounting pressure of her success consumes her psyche. She starts to have bizarre hallucinations that not only haunt and corrode her mind, it also causes her to question the fabric of her own sanity. Seeing constant illicit visions of her understudy, Lily (Mila Kunis), seducing and trying to sabotage her at every turn, but is that truly the case? Or perhaps another twisted perversion of reality within Nina's mind? I could say, but that would be telling. After all, part of this film's charm is the mystery and thrills of it. At every turn in the film, it leads from one bizarre plot twist to the next, to where even the most intelligent viewer will begin to question the outcome of this movie.
As I stated before, this movie isn't for the faint of heart, as it contains quite possibly some of the most disturbing images ever to be conceived in a film. Ranging from all sorts of deviant acts of perversions, to even sinister acts like murder and self mutilation. The images you see will leave a lasting imprint on your psyche.
Heck, there's even images that are just flat out weird, as you won't believe what your seeing. In one scene, Nina self pleases herself at the suggestion of her director. For you see, according to Thomas, she has the control, and grace to be the white swan quite perfectly. However, the lead role, in this ballet, requires her to play the black swan as well. The black swan isn't about grace; rather the role is about passion and loss of control in one's inhibitions. Something that Nina struggles with, as she's used to living a sheltered life style. However, as we watch this scene involving masturbation, along with the lesbian make out one with her and Kunis, we soon see our protagonist not only lose her control inhibitions, but a loss of her perception of reality. One moment, you'll believe Lily is out for Nina's role with a vengeance; only to end up questioning whether or not it actually happened at all.
What struck me eerily about this movie was that the events of the ballet almost mirrored Nina's hallucinations, as the pressure of the role was crushing her in real life. Using bizarre images and special effects to display the internal conflict within Nina, as her imagination tends to grow even more illicit as the movie plays on. Almost dragging her, as well as the audience, down the path of insanity, as she's unable to fathom what's real or not anymore.
Darren Aronofsky does an excellent job orchestrating this masterpiece, as his usage of symbolism throughout the movie is very reminiscent of legendary director, Akira Kurasawa's, previous work. Fully captivating the audiences' imagination, as he not only tells a story that breaches the minds and hearts of it's viewers, it also leaves them gasping for more.
Like Leonardo DiCaprio for his performance in "Shutter Island", Natalie Portman hands down deserves to walk away with an Oscar for this role in "Black Swan." Anyone that dares to say otherwise, needs to see this film, as the Academy would be insane not to give her one for this part. Indeed, Natalie Portman has always been a highly under rated actress, but it seems like her character, she's finally moved into the spot light with this role. Unlike her character though, Natalie doesn't buckle under the pressure, as she delivers a performance truly worthy of admiration.
I could go on forever about this film, but I think I've made my case. Anyone that dares says that movies are nothing more than commercialized garbage, will soon eat their own words when they see this film. "Black Swan" is the very definition of what a dramatic film could be. I highly recommend it, as this earns a three and a half out of four. Although it does deserve a perfect four, but I know the average movie goer probably won't like this film, due to its graphic nature and artistic flair. However, for those that truly appreciate the artistic side of cinema, then you'll be in for a real treat.