…and the quest to see everything

TIFF: Black Swan

Black Swan fits director Darren Aronofksy’s other work, with an obsession with the body and performance, close-ups of Nina’s (Natalie Portman) feet and ballet flats being warmed up. There’s CGI, grainy digital photography, and uncompromising close-ups of her face. Like other Aronofsky’s protagonists, she embraces quick success without anticipating her antagonists, like rival Lily (Mila Kunis), choreographer Thomas (Vincent Cassel) Nina’s mother Erica (Barbara Hershey), and all the voices in her head.

ph. TIFF

The actresses also do great work here. Portman interestingly interprets her character as a virginal girl without confidence, panting at every step, obeying Aronofsky’s pendulum swing vision of her character. It’s probably the first time I’ve seen Portman attack cruelty in its basic form, scratching and clawing away at herself, as if a demon is possessing her. Kunis is smooth and elastic as she dances and seduces everyone, deserving the Marcello Mastroianni award she got this past week.

The inconsistent characters, are my big complaint. I don’t mean the other dancers’ double pronged admiration and bitchitude, from what I heard normally directed to women from women. I’m talking about malleable Nina, mentally unready to become Swan Queen, despite having a ‘flash’ of it in her. Or how the ‘prick’ Thomas still has his job. We are perceiving them through Nina’s warped state of mind, but I’m not sure if that’s justifiable enough. The film’s ending feels invigorating, but still, 3/5.

p.s. Just realized that the douche-y blonde guy from Hot Tub Time Machine is one of Nina’s dancing partners.

5 responses

  1. Which douchey blonde guy?

    September 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

  2. The one who kept quoting Red Dawn a lot. Sebastian Stan, I think, is his name.

    September 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm

  3. As masterfully-crafted as Black Swan is, it’s still very much Natalie Portman’s performance as a ballerina pushed to the very edges of sanity that makes the film absolutely unforgettable.

    December 26, 2010 at 4:55 am

  4. Nice touch on mentioning the inconsistency of the characters…I know that the fact that we’re seeing it through Nina’s lens will come up but I don’t think it is justifiable reason.

    (I don’t get the Kunis love, though. I want to, I really want to…but I’m generally unmoved by her.)

    December 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm

  5. My favourite line read of Kunis/Lilly is when Nina tells her of their sexual episode, and she mockingly asks her ‘Was I good?’ It’s not the kind of training you get in the West End. I hope she gets more roles in drama.

    December 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm

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