With the Academy Awards right around the corner, what would be better than to go over some of the movies that will surely be nominated for some award or another? Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has achieved a great deal of success and praise since its release and for good reason. The darkly lit labyrinth of a movie serves as a careful reminder to filmmakers on how to design a true mind-bender of a film without having to resort to overused cliches.
To fit it into the genre of “psychological thriller” would be a cheap shot against the film itself. Black Swan, under the wonderful guidance of Aronofsky, made sure to be movie more than capable of not being restricted to basic classifications. Granted, much horror floats around throughout the confines of the film and the audience gets left feeling particularly unnerved in many instances. Many declaring Black Swan to be a horror filled romp through the disturbed mental recesses of a disturbed ballerina, are not far off. The movie certainly is twisted in a great many ways and the utter ambiguity, with the line between reality and imagination becoming greatly blurred.
We watch the world through the eyes of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) and thereby feel the same sense of confusion and terror the young woman herself undergoes. Are certain characters evil and hostile, or does Nina simply envision them that way? Yet, the feeling of uncertainty is intentional, as Aronofsky knows perfectly well the effect he’s inflicting. The character of Lily, played by Mila Kunis, only aids in generating more chaos. Witty, devilish, and potentially sinister, Lily takes the role of Nina’s dopplelganger in nearly every way that matters. Nina, constantly under the impression that Lily is trying to not only be her, but seize every aspect of her life, feels the threads of her reality crumbling, as she becomes appalled in discovering she may (or may not) be turning into a swan.
The disturbing quality of the film extends beyond the psychological premise. I’ve noticed Aronofsky’s showing of both hand and feet oriented trauma. From broken nails, to pieces of flesh peeling off one’s fingers, I found myself dreading what new horrors would find their way onto Natalie Portman’s fingers or toes. This particular theme in no way has been reduced only to Black Swan, but even in The Wrestler there happens to be a moment of injury to the hand. If Aronosfky’s intent was to make the audience squeamish, he succeeded.
I’d be remiss if I ignored one of Black Swan‘s more commercial features: the themes of sex and sexuality. Quite possibly one of the reasons why some people have gone to see the film, hearing about the now infamous sex scene between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. Yet, all the sex that transpires throughout the movie’s entirety comes across as awkward, unusual, and even frightening.
Watching Black Swan can be a peculiar experience, but one well worth it. For every bit of darkness or uncomfortable emotions translated over from the screen, a majestic elegance unfolds. Would I recommend going to see Black Swan? Certainly. While I’m not of the mindset that the movie will be recognized as revolutionary, it is different and reasonably unique, which in and of itself merits viewing. If nothing else, what really made the movie for me, happened to be the last few minutes, the conclusion bringing about a splendid and near-perfect finish.