With such stunners as "The Fountain" and "The Wrestler" under Aronofsky's belt, its hard not to say that I REALLY was excited for "Black Swan". A psychological thriller with Portman set to a NY ballet version of "Swan Lake"? Sounds ballsy! And it pains me to say that even though the film was executed in almost perfect fashion, I was disappointed. My wife said it best when she said that, unlike most of his other films, "Black Swan" seemingly doesn't leave the emotional impression it should have. Which, ironically, places it well below the director's catalog.
Nina is up for the best gig in her life. Her NY ballet company is doing a version of "Swan Lake" (doesn't everyone?) and she is up for the role of the Swan Queen. Too bad her competition for the role, Lily (Kunis) seems to be a better fit to play the Black Swan to Nina's perfect fit for the White Swan. Now Nina has to dig deep and pull out her inner Black Swan, whose seduction and violent tendencies might just be a little too much for such a fragile girl like Nina.
When one strips down "Black Swan" from all its fluff and feathers (oh, that one was a little easy) its basically a coming of age tale. Although the circumstances seem to be a little more intense, subtle, and more odd than what we've seen before, this film is about a girl coming into her own against a world that has seemingly put her in a box. This is part of the reason that "Black Swan" doesn't quite have the impact that say "The Wrestler" did when both films are very similar in style and foundation. We've seen it before. I've seen it on ABC Family. And that foundation, although classic, somewhat undermines the emotional impact that "Black Swan" desperately pushed for.
Granted, when one looks at the execution of the film, its damn near perfect. Portman deserves an Oscar for her role as Nina, Cassel is once again a perfect casting (which is completely opposite of his imbred role I just watched in "Sheitan"), and Kunis doesn't fuck it up. That's all I ask of her really. It also benefits from Aronofsky's practically patented style of slow burning and low, but very intense energy that cooks the plot and characters like a crock pot. His use of mirrors, frantic moving cameras, and a documentary style bouncy walking shots make for a rather opposite take for the rather clean cut style of ballet and it works in loads here. Pretty much everything works here, execution wise, and its worth watching the film just for that.
Really the only thing that I didn't come out of "Black Swan" with, was that sort of lasting impression of a life lesson that the director's other films seem to leave. Although it was a riveting story to watch with a very artistic style to admire, it missed the one two blast it could have had. Which makes it somewhat of a disappointment. Aronofsky has set his own bar very high for his films and "Black Swan" misses the mark a little. Great, but not perfect.
Written By Matt Reifschneider