We’ve all had the opportunity to witness Darren Aronofsky‘s creativity, despite his short resumé. We know his darkest and most controversial side from Requiem for a Dream, as well as the miracles he gets from his actors in The Wrestler. In Black Swan Aronofsky combines the best of both – a disturbing thriller with powerful performances.
The film revolves around the newest version of Swan Lake, in which the visionary man behind it (Vincent Cassel) decides to merge the two main characters – the White Swan and the Black Swan – into one performance. Nina (Natalie Portman) is the ballerina who will have the privilege and the challenge to embody the two opposite forces, while struggling to maintain her own psychological balance.
Along with his usual cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, Aronosfky achieves wonders while exploring the delicate beauty that defines both the art of ballet and the lead actress, chocking us as well with such small yet horrifying details. He explores the world of ballet without sugarcoating it, and easily avoiding clichés – muscle lesions are recurrent, skins bleed, bones crack, fingers are stuck down the throat. A world where your body is tortured, but not as much as your mind – and so Nina falls. But she does so with such seductive vulnerability that it only enthralls us even more. And it was that very same vulnerability that got Natalie Portman the much deserved Academy Award for Best Actress.
The soundtrack is a radical approach to Tchaikovsky‘s original songs, making it ineligible for any award. Which is only fair of course, but when we listen to it, it doesn’t seem so – Clint Mansell had to have an equal amount of talent and courage to change in such an innovative way the original melodies. With Mansell’s work the movie gains rhythm and energy, in an epic spectacle where team effort is clearly the key. Illusion and reality blend in increasing suspense – jaws will drop.