Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan'...

For some reason, despite being shown the trailer in my first term, it's taken me this long to see Black Swan. I don't know what anyone else made of it but I thought it was one of the most effective horror films I've seen in a long time! Even thinking about certain body horror sequences now is making me all squeamish.

I found it to be an unsettling, unpredictable and incredibly visceral experience. You could feel Nina's (Natalie Portman) mental state deteriorating as the scenes passed by, her muscles aching from the strain of constantly practising and knowing that something horrible is going to happen but you don't know when or if it'll be her doing it.  Even when she was relaxing you still felt ill at ease because of how mentally unsound and tightly wound she is.  This isn't just because of good film making though, Natalie Portman's performance is fantastic, from her fragile as crystal Nina to her scarily predatory Black Swan.

It's a wonderful example, if not a little twisted, of the intensity involved in searching for perfection in a specialist career. The scenes where she's being pulled and pushed to try to fix her cramping muscles, when she jumps onto the tips of her toes and repeatedly spins until her nails are broken, all of these are experienced by the audience as the camera forces us into her personal space to observe every wince, every stress and every tiny flicker of pain on her face.

Empire's Dan Jolin wrote: "An extraordinary, intoxicating movie. Its hard, twisted edges may turn off some, but there’s no faulting either Aronofsky’s technical mastery or Portman’s flawless performance." I agree entirely with this summary. I enjoyed the use of doppelgängers and the camera almost always being in her personal space. It made for an intense experience that, if you like it, will stay with you for a while after.

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