Saturday, December 18, 2010

Black Swan (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Black Swan

When watching "Black Swan" I was reminded of Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby". The camera hovers like a wasp around Natalie Portman who plays struggling ballerina Nina, just as it once did with Mia Farrow. The menace is palpable.

Nina is single minded in purpose. She only wants to star in the new production of "Swan Lake". She practices and practices in a grueling mechanical manner toe points, lifts and pirouettes. It is a visual trademark of director Darren Aronofsky to show objects as part of a rapid routine. In "Pi" it was albuterol inhalers. In "Requiem for a Dream" it was diet pills. In this film, it is the repeated sequence of toes wrenched and crammed in ballet shoes. Through this film we feel the agony of what it might be like to dance ballet.
Nina is up against it from the start. The womanizing director of the ballet company (Vincent Cassel) thinks she is too much of a goody two shoes. She is not sexy enough, not evil enough for the double role of the Black Swan that the role requires. As in Rosemary's Baby's sinister Dakota building, the locations of "Black Swan" are prone to eerie sights: half-human half-bird creatures engage in lascivious sex, crazed ballerinas go into rages, paintings become possessed and "Exorcist"-like, while mothers shape-shift. For those familiar with Aronofsky, it is a feast.

Nina becomes hunted by the darkling savage force of Lily (Mila Kunis). Lily is a 21st century version of Alex in "Fatal Attraction" Where she is all slinky ease and feline coyness. Nina is enervated by repression and her smothering mother (Barbara Hershey) Having no outlet, Nina viciously scratches herself as a neurotic by product of the pursuit of perfection. A nameless and obscure presence of the Occult seems to pursue Nina even though she does nothing wrong.

Everything Nina sees, even a chair is demonic and scary.

As the tension builds and builds as delicately as a score in Classical music, the movie wonderfully echoes Kafka's Metamorphosis, as much as Polanski. By being both frightening and beautiful, voluptuous and vicious, "Black Swan" highlights the potential for sorcery and magic in our everyday lives.
Within each and every one of us there exists a Creature.

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