Black Swan is a visual riot. It does not fail to beguile with its marvelous camerawork and transitions, unfolding to the tune of hair-raising music. It has the entire movie industry abuzz, and for good reason. Rife with tension (sexual and otherwise), it kept me on my toes throughout its duration. Director Darren Aronofsky drew me so much into the plot that my head hurt after watching. The movie captivated me with every twist and turn. It’s a breathtaking experience, being swept away by a film and spinning along with it, and it is not something we come across very often: an achievement only heightened by its rarity.
The film opens with a young dancer (Natalie Portman) vying for the lead in her ballet company’s production of Swan Lake. The director (Vincent Cassel) finds her perfect for the White Swan’s part, but doubts her ability to handle the more crucial role of Black Swan, who seems better suited for the newcomer (Mila Kunis). Unwilling to relinquish the starring role, the aspiring prima ballerina pirouettes her way into a perfect embodiment of the Black Swan, at the same time spiraling further and further into madness.
Critics have heaped praise upon praise on Natalie Portman’s acting in this film, and I cannot help but follow suit. She provides her character with such authenticity that we are compelled to sympathize, even with such a twisted persona. It especially thrilled me to watch her perform as Swan Queen. And this is also why I feel unsatisfied with the Black Swan’s part at the end. I found it too short. I wanted more. The film’s anticipation of it since the beginning promised me as much. I had hoped to be completely captivated, seduced by the Black Swan, and was instead disappointed by her short appearance, for despite the film’s title the White Swan takes center stage, at least during the ballet.
Black Swan is not perfect, but it’s presented in such a way that made me accept it wholeheartedly, minor discontents and all. The obvious love that went into its creation shows through, just like in Aronofsky’s earlier work Requiem for a Dream (2000). Neither film made me feel happy (quite the reverse, actually), but instead gave me a sense of fulfillment that surpasses happiness. I felt disturbed and satiated; both movies haunted me for several hours afterward: I could not have been more delighted.
‘I had the craziest dream last night about a girl who has turned into a swan, but her prince falls for the wrong girl and she kills herself.’
‘Everything will be better in the morning. It always is.’
‘Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go.’
‘That was me seducing you, when it needs to be the other way around.’
‘I just want to be perfect.’
‘The only person standing in your way is you.’