Black Swan. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Remember that scene in Empire Strikes Back where Luke goes into the cave on Dagobah and finds Darth Vader? He fights Vader, cuts off his head, and then discovers that he was fighting himself the whole time?
Black Swan is like a two hour version of that scene, but with more tutus and less lightsabers.
This has been a tough year for film. At the box office, sure, but most importantly in terms of quality, at least in my opinion. Although there have been films that impressed me on a technical level (127 Hours, Social Network, Inception), there have been very few movies that have moved me on a personal or emotional level, and isn’t that what movies are supposed to do? So I went into my Black Swan screening with some hope, but mostly with trepidation. This year has been full of films that overpromised and under delivered, and while I LOVE Darren Aronofsky’s films, I’m extremely wary of hype.
I’m happy to report that my fears were unjustified. Although this is a bold statement to make about the guy that made Requiem For A Dream, I believe that this may be Aronofsky’s best film to date
Here’s the skinny: Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, an up and coming ballerina finally on the verge of success after years of hard work. However, as she gets close to achieving her goals, she finds that the price for achieving artistic perfection might be too high. An overbearing mother, an overly strict director, and new, younger competition in Mila Kunis all contribute to the melodrama.
This is a stunning film. I can’t think of a single level that this film doesn’t excel in; from Aronofsky’s extremely tight but fluid direction, to Portman’s career-best performance, to Clint Mansell’s exquisite score, this movie outdoes itself at every level. Even the sound design is amazing. I want to use the word groundbreaking for this film, but that’s not quite accurate; we’ve seen similar work from directors like Polanski and Malle, and even Aronofsky himself. It’s just that we haven’t seen anything quite like it in so very long. This movie sets the bar high as to what film can achieve, and it’s a master class in how to create tension for film. I just hope there are other directors and movies willing to step up to the plate.
Although it’s still early in the season, this will probably end up being my pick for best film of 2010, which also means that it will probably get shut out at the Oscars, leaving me to curse wildly at my television this spring.