Synopsis: A ballet dancer wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan – Princess Odette – but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writers: Mark Heyman (screenplay), Andres Heinz (screenplay & story (as Andrés Heinz)), John J. McLaughlin (screenplay (as John McLaughlin))
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel
Serious Jest: (Rental) Aronofsky’s protagonists are often masters of their crafts who accomplish incredible feats at great cost (I wonder if he is projecting his own feelings into his movies). Accordingly, the success of his projects depend heavily on the performance of the lead. In this case, Portman is amazing. She loses herself in her role like her character, Nina, loses herself in hers. But what is often underrated in films like this is the importance of the supporting cast, because they, in essence, play reflections of the central character’s personality, motivations, inspirations, and, ultimately, madness. Thus, Kunis is seductively enchanting as Nina’s wild, dark, and sexual side. Cassel nails (no pun intended) Nina’s insecurity and unrealistic self-expectations. Barbara Hershey drives home Nina’s arrested development, but also her innocence and rational side. Winona Ryder convincingly embodies Nina’s greatest aspirations…and simultaneously, her greatest fears.
I am not much into ballet (although I appreciate the beauty and grace of those extraordinarily talented women), but this film certainly kept me interested, entertained, and on the edge of my seat. Everyone should see this movie at some point, as it is brilliant. However, it’s probably a one-time view, unless you’re a ballet enthusiast, or you need to watch it again to figure some things out.
CraigMakk: (Rental) It is well-documented on the show that I am an Aronofsky fan. Very few people were more excited than me for the prospect of an Aronofsky Wolverine movie. Instead, I got a movie about…ballet. They’re almost the same, right? I mean, he didn’t totally let down all his fans by going from potentially making the best superhero movie of all time, to doing a movie about…..ballet, right? Oh GOD, why, Darren??
Those were my initial thoughts on this movie. And then I saw it. And all that garbage went out the window. This movie is insane, and in a very good way. Natalie Portman proves yet again why she is one of the best young actresses of our generation. Her portrayal of the increasingly insane Nina is incredible, as she shows all the internal struggles facing a performer trying desperately to find the “perfect performance.” halfway through you realize that you don’t know any more than she does what is real and what is a figment of her fevered imagination.
I hated her mother from start to finish, as she simply seemed like every overbearing parent who projects onto their child. As a parent, she truly made me sick….which is a testament to an excellent performance. The interactions with Mila Kunis were likewise very impressive, as she perfectly represented the repressed sexuality of the child-like Nina.
In the end, I completely echo the thoughts of my co-host Jest. This Ida movie I should’ve by all rights thrown up on, or at the very least broken the DVD in half and cried for losing touch wi my good friend Darren. Instead, he gave me a movie that I loved, and recommended to friends at the risk of being mocked mercilessly. I don’t care what Chewie says….this movie is definitely worth watching at least once. Who knows? You might even develop a love of ballet. Not that I did or anything….no, that’s not a ticket to go see “La Sylphide” with my name on it! Stop looking at my personal stuff!