As competition for the lead/dual role of Odette/Odile hots up, company director Thomas (Vincent Cassel) has little doubt as to Nina’s capabilities to portray Odetta - the fragile and vunerable White Swan. However, playing Odile -the cunning and seductive Black Swan will require Nina to draw uopn the kind of psycho-sexual emotions of which he knows she has little - if any - experience, but a chance encounter leaves Tomas that there is something Nina simmering below the surface and duly selects her for the part.
Her joy is short lived however, when Nina is confronted with her nemisis in the form of Lily (Mila Kunis); a ‘wildcard’ ballerina from out of town. With her care-free demeanour and hypersexual allure, Lily intoxicates Nina out of all rationality whilst threatening to steal her beloved role from beneath her prima-perfect nose. Juxatsposed with this is Mother’s perverse attempts to save her ’sweet girl’ (a tag that breaks all boundaries of decency by worming it’s way into a sexual encounter) from the evils of womanhood, and Nina’s own guilt over the callous treatment of the has-been ballerina Beth (Winona Ryder) whom she’s unsurped. Soon enough, Nina’s tiny universe becomes a nasty mirage of peeling skin, snapping bones and downright disobedient reflections. As opening night approaches, reality continues to allude her grasp and Nina’s terrfiying metamorphisis into her Black Swan promises to be both her finest hour and ultimate destruction.
Now, ne’er in the brief the history of CLFmag has a film been poured and pondered over as obssessively as Black Swan, and although not without it’s glitches, (cliche end and the odd unnecessary special effect), it really is an enthralling exploration of all that is exquisite and macarbe. Whether you’re taken by director Darren Aronofsky’s unrelenting, up-close portrayal of paranoia, surrealism or just good-old drug fuckery, or Portman’s physical transformation to display of the exertions of this Olympic-level, self-mutilating artform, there’s so much to love. And if there was ever a more beguiling sight than Portman’s pained prima ballerina, I’d like to see it. Same for the lesbian scene to be honest (it really is that good), not to mention the classical score and errr, soft knits (ahhh). But if a film is to be measured by it’s ability to stay in your psyche after titles have rolled, Black Swan has earned it’s place amongst the modern classics of whatever genre it decides to fit it’s perfectly honed-self. (Just for the record, methinks the finale, of which I’ve posted a smidgen below, might be one of my all time favourite cinematic scenes). Besides, any criticism comes at the cost of allowing yourself to be transported into an elusive world that, for whatever reason, captures the imagination far in excess of it’s real-life representation.
But real life isn’t what you get here either.
What you do get is that classic tale of sweet dream gone PLEASE-MAKE-IT-STOP-waking nightmare; as such, Black Swan is a beautifully mental trip of a film.
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