From wrestling to classical ballet, director Darren Aronofsky has crafted another exquisite cinematic exploration of identity and performance. Black Swan is psychologically thrilling cinema at its finest. As the artistic director of a world-class ballet company (a stand-in for the New York City Ballet), Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), starts the new season by firing his vitriolic, aging prima ballerina (Winona Ryder). Lecherous and manipulative, Thomas decides to stage a new and cutting edge production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a ballet that requires one dancer to portray the two sides of the Swan Queen: the innocent and naïve White Swan and the sensual and seductive Black Swan. Few dancers have the talent to master this stark duality.
Nina (Natalie Portman) is a timid but dedicated dancer in the company. Like most ballerinas, dancing is her life and her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), a former ballerina, ensures that her life is comprised of nothing but ballet. In a state of continual childhood innocence, Nina dances by day and sleeps by night under the watchful eye of her suffocating mother. A technically flawless dancer, Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan. But she lacks the passionate abandon that is needed for the other half of the role. When a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), joins the company, she has all the sensual energy that Nina lacks. Intimidated by this power, Nina becomes obsessed with her rival and the two form an uneasy relationship where Lily tries to help Nina reveal her repressed dark side through drugs, sex and wild debauchery.
But as the role begins to consume her, strange things happen to Nina. Her body changes, as does her mind, and the line between the production and reality begins to blur in a terrifying transformation.
With stunning visuals and masterful performances, Black Swan combines a rare mix of beauty and grotesquerie to shape a remarkable narrative. Potent and dazzling, Aronofsky’s latest feature is a testament to his visionary talent. –TIFF.net
Darren Aronofsky was born February 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, Darren was always artistic: he loved classic movies and, as a teenager, he even spent time doing graffiti art. After high school, Darren went to Harvard University to study film (both live-action and animation). He won several film awards after completing his senior thesis film, “Supermarket Sweep”, starring Sean Gullette, which went on to becoming a National Student Academy Award finalist. Aronofsky didn’t make a feature film until five years later, in February 1996, where he began creating the concept for Pi (1998). After Darren’s script for Pi (1998) received great reactions from friends, he began production. The film re-teamed Aronofsky with Gullette, who played the lead. This went on to further successes, such as Requiem for a Dream (2000) and, most recently, the American remake of the Japanese film series “Lone Wolf and Cub” (1973). —IMDb
If you thought that The Red Shoes wasn't dark enough and wish Repulsion had more ballet, Darren Aronofsky has you covered. So it's a movie about the pain of perfectionism in art, but there's another, more interesting movie in here about the pain of perfectionism in womanhood. That having been said, I wish the film were more even, or that it didn't go to such pains to sacrifice subtlety for horror. 4 out of 5 stars.
Sporadic thrills are clouded by Aronofsky's penchant for taking his subject matter - and himself - way too seriously and turning everything up to 11. Portman was good.
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Nothing flatters an artist so much as an homage, which can sometimes be a fancy word for plagiarism. It was with this in mind that I saw Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” at the umpteenoplex last night… read review
Darren Aronofsky follows the Wrestler with another Niche film, exploring the realms of a sub-art, this time, it’s Ballet. People have been reluctant to point out similarities between the Black Swan… read review
I mean, it’s just absolute perfection, there’s no way around it. Nothing stops it. From that beautiful, haunting opening dream until Nina’s big finale, every moment had me absolutely transfixed. The… read review