MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller uncovers the brutal and competitive nature of the professional ballet world. Nina (Natalie Portman) is a beautiful ballerina who is quickly becoming detached from reality. When she wins the part of the lead in her company’s performance of “Swan Lake,” she slowly slips into insanity, facing unwanted advances from her director and confusing messages from a rival dancer (Mila Kunis).
WHAT I LIKED
Unlike many film fanatics out there, I don’t find Darren Aronofsky to be a director who can do no wrong. Same goes for other directors like David Fincher and Christopher Nolan. Any of these directors has the potential to make great films, they all have the ability to make not-so-great films. And some (like Aronofsky and his dreadful “The Fountain”) have proved they can do just that.
So the buzz leading up to “Black Swan” wasn’t felt by me. I was interested in the movie, sure, but I wasn’t dying to see it. However, when I finally had a chance to see it, the movie blew me away. Aronofsky has always been a director who gets wrapped up in his own art so much that it can be counterproductive. Such was the case with “The Fountain,” which was like a Terrence Malick film… all visuals and no substance. Even as good as Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream” was, it felt at times like it existed to experiment with filming techniques rather than drive a plot.
“Black Swan” offers a perfect balance between Aronofsky’s more poetic works and his down-to-earth style of “The Wrestler.” He doesn’t abandon the style of the film, but he also uses all of his stylized moments to further the story.
And in the end, “Black Swan” is as much of a horror movie as it is an arthouse film or award piece. It follows the journey of a woman going insane, and he brings the viewer into her mind perfectly. You never quite know what’s real and what’s fantasy, but not in a cheap and lazy way. We are experiencing Nina’s journey, for better or for worse, for real or not.
Ballet carries a stigma of being soft and fluffy, but Aronofsky breaks that stereotype, buoyed up by Tchaikovsky’s brilliant and dark “Swan Lake” score. One of the best films of 2010, “Black Swan” is a sight to behold.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not a whole lot. This is easily my favorite movie directed by Darren Aronofsky.
The two-disc Blu-ray combo comes with a digital copy disc for portable viewing. The main disc also unlocks BD-Live extras, including behind-the-scenes options and Live LookUp, powered by IMDb.
The bulk of the bonus materials come in a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary called “Metamorphosis.” This examines the development and production of the film, from a small independent picture to one that was contending for the highest honors in film.
Additional featurettes include “Behind the Curtain,” which looks into the influence that ballet had on the production; “Ten Years in the Making,” in which Aronofsky and Portman discuss how they developed and prepared for the film; and “Cast Profiles” from Fox Movie Channel, in which the stars reflect on their character development.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of dark award films.