Review: Black Swan

5 Jan

While The Wrestler was my favorite film from 2008, it did have one clear downside that only came to pass last week: it made me briefly forget that director Darren Aronofsky is out of his mind. In a good way, mostly.

Before The Wrestler, Aronofsky cemented his status as a director of the dark side with Pi and Requiem For a Dream, and recently returned to his roots in fucked-up-ness with Black Swan. Did he ever.

Black Swan tells the story of an over-sheltered ballerina losing her grip on reality while dealing with the pressures of a demanding role. The film is shot mostly with a super-jumpy handheld in close-up range, giving it a claustrophobic vibe even when nothing is happening. The near-constant opera music that serves as the soundtrack as Natalie Portman’s character begins suffering from more rapid and intense hallucinations makes it even eerier.

Put simpler: think of the “what is real and what is fantasy” mood of Mulholland Drive and add an infinite amount of creepiness. In a good way, mostly.

I was thoroughly engrossed in Black Swan and heartily applaud the film’s uniqueness and ambition. However, I am not a fan of horror films in the slightest and must admit I watched the final third of the movie — which by then had devolved into full-on freak show insanity — wearing a pained wince. It’s a winner, no doubt, but I haven’t had so little fun in a cinema in a long time.

Grade: B

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