Black Swan not just another Hollywood dance flick
Culture / January 28, 2011
By Carlie Auclair [health bureau chief]
When one thinks of a classic ballet film, you would naturally think of fluffy pink tutus, tattered pointe shoes and lithe, determined ballerinas.
While Daren Aronofsky’s latest film does include these expected cliché themes, there ends up being more to this film than meets the eye.
The best way to describe Black swan is that it is a psychological, and at times, psychedelic, ballet thriller. Mr. Aronofsky might have discovered an undiscovered niche for all those off the cuff, art-house film-loving ballerinas that have been clinging to their overused VHS copies of Centre Stage, wishing it could be more than it is ( Hell I’ve been there!). Alas, a new genre is born!
The story centers on the main character Nina (Natalie Portman), a constantly quivering, mentally fragile ballerina who has suddenly found herself in the prestigious lead role of Swan Lake. It just so happens that this version of the legendary ballet requires its lead dancer to play both the parts of the white swan and black swan–a feat deemed, by real life ballerinas, as next to impossible due to the amount of stamina it takes to play just one of the roles.
Like all good thrillers, a wild card is thrown into the mix and essentially comes in the form of Portman’s understudy, Lily (Mila Kunis).
On getting to know the tattooed street wise character, we find out that she is brash, confident and sexually relevant; all things that Portman’s character strives to be in order to successfully pull off the daunting role of the Black Swan. And because Nina is by nature a polite perfectionist, she finds herself buckling under the extreme pressure and plunging head first into a cesspool of mental unrest and freaky hallucinations. As if all that wouldn’t be enough to deal with, Nina has to convince her
Euro-suave misogynistic ballet director (Vincent Cassel) that she’s worthy of such a meaty role, despite her coquettish demeanor.
Because of all of the melodrama and plot twists the movie runs through you like a rogue locomotive headed for a fireworks factory; that is complimented perfectly by the climactic pace of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake score.
By the end of this fantastic frenzy of a film, I found myself wanting to collapse as if I myself had taken on the taxing lead role of the Black Swan; and despite the movie’s brief flirtations with soapy melodrama, the characters and plot seem to prevail all the while folding nicely within each other– making the movie a sparkling indie ballet gem hidden among a stinking sea of homogenized neo-dance films. Time to step down Step Up!