Monday, December 20, 2010
Natalie Portman plays Nina, the lead role in Black Swan and though she’s been amazing me with her performances since Leon, she reaches new depths in this role; it’s one of the most devastating and brutal performances I’ve seen on screen – but that’s something Aronofsky seems to excel at fostering in his films. Portman literally breaks the boundaries of sanity before the audiences eyes as she transforms from shy core member, to dual-hearted lead.
Mila Kunis also stars as Lily, the free-spirited dancer who Nina envies as she outwardly embodies everything that Nina wishes to become. Over the past few years I’ve gained great respect for Kunis as an actor, as she seems to have grown with every role I’ve seen her in. In Black Swan she manages to be both daring, brash and domineering and yet she holds your attention on screen just as thoroughly as Portman.
Black Swan owes something very specific to Hitchcock – the ability to lie to the audience. Perhaps what makes Black Swan so tense and thrilling is that as the film progresses you are never sure if what is happening on screen is real, or if it is happening in Nina’s mind; it’s a powerful tribute to the director that we stay intrigued by this, because it brings us into Nina’s plight, we can’t trust what’s going on any more than Nina can. However, when the credits finally roll all that matters is that you’ve been pinned to your seat for the better part of two hours, anxious to see what will happen to Nina.
What I love about an Aronofsky film, including Black Swan is that you can tell every inch of every frame matters to Aronofsky. The smallest details are added together to be the most important, from the textures of fabric in wardrobe, to small visual effects that may go unnoticed by most of the audience. Aronofsky has as way of melding fantasy and reality in a way that makes the fantasy look absolutely real, and when necessary makes the reality look like the dream. Aronofsky has never done a film that hasn’t been powerful and dynamic – he’s a director with a clear voice and style, one that firmly belongs in cinema and I am sure his films will be some of the many that film scholars discuss for years to come.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Nina: I had the craziest dream last night about a girl who has turned into a swan, but her prince falls for the wrong girl and she kills herself.