21 January 2011
BLACK SWAN- Review
In Black Swan, Nina Sayers is a dedicated ballerina who bags the lead role of the Swan Queen in her company's radical new take on Swan Lake. She seems the perfect embodiment of the White Swan, all lightness and fragility and innocence, but her role also comprises the dark twin, the Black Swan. As opening night draws closer, Nina finds that releasing her self control might be the only way to succeed. As her preparation transcends her performance, the Black Swan takes her into a psychological nightmare.
As mentioned above, there's more to Black Swan than what appears on the surface, at least as far as the trailers go. I'm eager to avoid building up anybody's expectations, because your best course of action in seeing this film, and you really should see it, is to do as Nina does and lose control, letting it take you for a ride. If you let it, this film will grab you by the brain and rattle you up, down, around and all over for a rock solid and visually beautiful 100 minutes of psychological terror.
It's not a film of any dense subtlety, and once you get into it, what you see is pretty much what you get, as far as what director Darren Aronofsky is "trying to say". The colour scheme deals largely in blacks and whites, mirrors can be found wall-to-wall, and the body horror that goes on throughout is decently visceral, without a lot of restraint. Aronofsky's restraint is in taking the story of Nina seriously despite using all of the tools of melodrama that he can lay his hands on. There's potential here for a film that could tip over into outrageous Evil Dead or Drag Me to Hell style histrionics, but while a Sam Raimi version of Black Swan would be a lot more fun, I struggle to imagine it being better.
Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey are just as impressive as Nina's rival and stage mother, respectively. Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel make good but slightly OTT appearances that are paled into normalcy as the atmosphere of the film itself ramps up and overwhelms them. I hasten to say once again that this is an incredibly visceral film. I understand that some have went and found this film on the Internet, in their impatience with UK distribution. They should go and see this on a big screen, because there's just so much detail to take in.
Hell, I'd love to see this film on an IMAX screen. It's not merely the resplendent art direction or the sensational cinematography, but the way that Aronofsky turns that visual competency to serve the horrific elements of the film. In every frame, your focus is pulled towards something, but every now and then, just left of centre, something might happen that frightens you. A photo might move, or a reflection might alter. On a regular screen, this film had me transfixed. Transported, even. On an IMAX screen, it might just blow out my mind entirely.
Black Swan is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Black Swan, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.