Sunday, January 30, 2011

Movies: Black Swan

I worry about Darren Aronofsky. It seems that each of his movies culminates with the protagonist cutting him or herself apart to relieve whatever endemic psychosickness lurks inside. I worry that some endemic psychosickness lurks inside of Darren.

Black Swan, like The Wrestler, is of manageable proportion for the director (as things were spinning a bit out of control when his greater ambitions led him from Requiem For a Dream to the baggy and confusing The Fountain). In fact, Black Swan is almost a remake of The Wrestler, the same character arc set on a well-cultured young woman rather than a low-class older man. The Wrestler’s violence is externalized, where the ballerina’s violence is internalized, but both give the director the opportunity to sink into that dark space of self-abuse and destruction.

While watching the film, I wasn’t particularly taken by any aspect; being as catty as some of the ballerinas, I found myself not liking Natalie Portman’s make-up in the final scene, not liking Natalie Portman in general (I never really have). But the movie has had an unexpected staying power, and weeks later, memories of scenes keep bubbling up. The real attraction of the film is Mila Kunis, who has the scratchy sex appeal of young Angelina Jolie, in, say, Gone in 60 Seconds or Girl, Interrupted. Cast to seduce Natalie Portman, she seduces us all, mostly in the rehearsal scene where she dances, her hair down, her technique subsumed in free emotion.

My most common gripe with dance movies is poor dancing, but Aronofsky, surprisingly, gets it right. I quit ballet fairly early, weighing too much to go up on pointe (to clarify, I was thin, but not slight, which is the physical requirement). But, I stayed a dancer, and a critical observer of dancers, and felt throughout The Black Swan, in spite of our protagonist’s mental illness, a tearing nostalgia, a longing to dance—but like Mila, not Natalie.

1 comment:

Charlie Cornflakes said...

I was just telling a friend of mine how Aronofsky's films are getting banal but I couldn't quite explain why.

But now I can . Good review.