Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beauty Driven to Madness

There will be varying interpretations of the film "Black Swan" but my feelings are that it's about where the road to perfection can take you.  And in this case, it took Nina Sayers (beautifully portrayed by Natalie Portman) to a breakdown of magnificent proportions.  "Black Swan" directed by Darren Aronofsy ("The Wrestler" "Pi" "Requiem for a Dream"), written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin, and starring Natalie Portman ("The Professional" "V for Vendetta" "Garden State"), Mila Kunis ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall" "That 70's Show") and Vincent Cassel ("Elizabeth" "Ocean's Twelve") begins with a beautiful sequence of Nina dancing but it quite quickly becomes clear that she is dreaming and that dream also quite quickly becomes sinister.  From there we are introduced to her life with her mother, Erica, played with great subtlety by Barbara Hershey ("Hannah and Her Sisters" "Beaches.")  Nina is a prima ballerina who is hoping to be cast as the lead in a new production of Swan Lake.  Nina's mother, we find out later, was also a ballerina but gave up her career when she became pregnant.  There are layers of guilt and resentment coming from both women as Nina, who is clearly in her mid to late 20's, still lives with her mother in her childhood room and continues to let her mother put her to bed.  Nina also begins a friendship with another dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), and Lily gives Nina a taste of a normal, balanced life but you're never quite sure if Lily's motives are pure.  There are many scenes that degrade into what seem to be Nina's fantasies or hallucinations.  The film is shot with a slightly hazy and sepia colored tone that adds to the disjointed sense that what you're seeing is not real.  The music, of course, is glorious and it builds as the film progresses and leaves you slightly breathless at the end.  Please go see this film for yourself - it is beautiful, haunting and unlike anything I've ever seen before. 

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