The Black Swan. Where to begin?
Aronofsky makes some damn compelling, difficult, films. I am still rubbing my Requiem scar in phantom pain. The only deeper cut was seeing the Fountain by myself in Topeka because there was a game on, or some such nonsense preventing the normal movie people from joining me.
Black Swan is a psychological horror film in the Joseph Conrad mold, a tale of self destruction and recovery a la “The Secretary” and an exploration of a modern day child star mother-daughter relationship with a bit of titillation thrown in to get the guys to come to the show.
Black Swan might be a dissection of celebrity culture, perhaps an examination of ballet, at the very least a bird's eye view of a mind driven too hard to perform and cracking under the pressure. Aronofsky does this with his characteristic great camera, style adapted to match the story, and a cast that is willing to pull out all the stops to make us believe.
Darren(not Aronofsky) and I had this discussion: what if Portman's transformation hadn't been done with effects? Well, the answer is, of course, we would have been watching either a dance or a play, not a movie. The transformation is as perfect and breathtaking as it is startling. I can feel the shivers I got watching it just thinking about it.
Black Swan is a dark Christmas film, one that gives me hope for the genre, and adds another notch to Aranofsky's belt. Bring on the Terrance Malick!