I joked in the 127 Hours review that I'd probably forget to review this, or maybe not review it all; and to be honest it's taken a few days to finally get this started... because I'm still unsure how I feel about this film.
For one, this is Aronofsky's latest film since The Wrestler, which I liked so much I gave it a VFH Seal of Approval (it was actually the first movie to get one, if you dont count WALL-E on Blu-ray). Which makes my judgment even harder, granted when I saw that film I hadn't seen any of Aronofsky's other films, which I've since gone and done and now have a much better idea on how I should judge his work...
...Anyways, Black Swan! The film centers around a ballet dancer, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), the best of her dance company and is trying to land the lead in Swan Lake, the company's re-imagining of the classic ballet. But despite being highly considered for the role, she is thrown off her pedestal by a newcomer, Lilu (Mila Kunis), who is basically everything Nina is not: free-spirited, out going, and overtly sexual. The pressure and influence of her rival, not to mention that fron her overbearing mother, director, and the company's former star dancer, ultimately leads Nina on a strange mind-bending ride.
Prior to seeing the film, I heard from a lot of people that the film would freak me out, and that I'd be thinking about it for days, etc etc... Well, that wasn't the case, for me at least. Yeah, I guess a lot of the film was weird or taboo, but it wasn't shocking, or that weird. I mean, I have watched Zardoz numerous times... But that's not to say I was disappointed, I'm just saying that people make this film out to be much stranger and brain-busting than it really is, I think.
Regardless of other peoples' opinions, I really did enjoy the film. I loved how it was shot just like The Wrestler, which a very intimate and realistic look, as if you were right there with the characters. And the fact that Black Swan adds the mind bending elements that obviously weren't in The Wrestler, makes the style of shooting even more effective. That's not to say 'big-budget Aronofsky' isn't apparent as there are a few scenes that bring in some CGI work that started to give me flashbacks of The Fountain, but thankfully the film never takes it that far, and the one scene that heavily uses CGI here is actually quite beautiful.
Acting-wise, everyone's really good in this film. I can't think of anyone more fitting for this role than Natalie Portman, and I was surprised that Mila Kunis was able to pull off the role, as I don't think I've seen her do anything appealing. Both Barabara Hershey and Vincent Cassel were great as Nina's mother and director respectively, as both do a fantastic of job of portraying seemingly sweet mentors but then ultimately becoming over-controlling and sinister.
Overall, I really did enjoy Black Swan, but I don't think I liked it as much as people are saying I should... if that makes any sense. I'd gladly watch it again, as it's a very brutal film, but not in the same depressing sense as Requiem For A Dream, which I honestly can't bring myself to watch a second time because it's so uncomfortable. But at the same time, I still don't think I enjoyed it as much as The Wrestler, because I find it difficult to get any sort of emotional connection to the characters of Black Swan like I had with The Wrestler. But ultimately both are great films, and really shouldn't be compared to each other aside from the relation of having the same director. Bottom line, I liked this film.
Overall Score: 9/10