Saturday, 17 September 2016

Classic Movie Review: Black Swan (2010)

Artistic and unsettling, Black Swan is a prime example of Darren Aronofsky's ability to create an uncomfortable and distressing film experience that audiences simply can't turn away from. Through a twisted and dark artistic lens, this movie asks one important question: how far will someone go for perfection? Through an overemphasized and dark view of the world of ballet, we receive a twisted and psychological flick that leaves us questioning our own emotional and mental states.

Nina (Natalie Portman) is an aspiring and dedicated ballerina whose entire life is ruled by her pursuits in the art form. When her company begins production on Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Nina becomes the front-runner for the role of the White Swan, however her lacking range restricts her from playing the contrasting Black Swan. Competition begins as Lily (Mila Kunis) assumes this opposite role, and we begin to glimpse into Nina's dark emotional distress and mental illness as she vies for perfection in her performance.

An obvious starting point in an analysis of Black Swan is its artistic style. This film is Aronofsky at his best; assuming his token surreal and disturbing style in creating a truly beautiful and dark flick. The style of the film can be seen as a reflection of Nina's psychological distress, and as she spirals further downwards in her mental state, the artistic form of the film follows suit. As the movie progresses it becomes increasingly surreal and figurative as we glimpse deeper into Nina's emotional schizophrenia and anxiety. Basically, expect to come out of this movie questioning whether anything actually happened or not. But not in a clichéd kind of way.

Just as beautiful as the film's style is the acting in the movie, and not without recognition. Natalie Portman's incredible portrayal of the twisted and tormented Nina snagged her the Academy Award for Best Actress, with Mila Kunis also receiving praise for her performance as Nina's twisted counterpart Lily. Natalie Portman's ability to convey such a wide range of emotions in this movie, from love and lust to schizophrenia, ultimately creates an incredibly dynamic and diverse character out of Nina.

Much like Aronofsky's other movies (Requiem for a Dream, Pi), Black Swan is disturbing and uncomfortable, but ultimately impossible to stop watching. We as the audience get to see the dark embodiments of Nina's struggling mental, emotional and sexual states, and respectively feel almost as messed up as Nina by the end of the movie. Grim and beautiful, Black Swan is definitely not just a boring film about ballet. As Nina states at the climax of the movie, "I was perfect". And the film was too.

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