2010 ballet movie
Rating: 17/20 (Jen: 15/20)
Plot: Man! Ballet competition is cut throat! Nina is an aspiring ballerina with an overprotective mother. She's also an aspiring drug addict/lesbian. And she's got poison ivy or something. She finally lands a coveted role--Donkey Girl in The Fragrant Codpiece--but begins to lose her mind with the pressures that come with the approaching performance, the demands of the oozing director, and the catty remarks of her jealous colleagues.
Wait a second. Darren Aronofsky is just making the same movie over and over again. Isn't this The Wrestler in tights? Or maybe it's a The Wrestler/Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo hybrid. This should get bonus points for making ballet intriguing. I didn't think I was liking this movie much, but I'm a sucker for folks-losing-their-minds movies or these movies about artistic obsessions, and this one just kept getting better and better. And on any given day, the little Aronofsky tricks to make the experience of gracefully losing one's mind might be too much, but on the particular day, this was a thrill ride of emotions, a visceral and downright haunting experience. My movie-watching companion was freaked out, and at times this does grab you the way a classy horror movie might. Aronofsky distracts with lesbian action, writhing Natalie Portmans, some modern effects that seem straight out of a comic book superhero movie, and some difficult-to-watch body scenes. But the themes addressed are universal, and the story is complex enough to keep the mind involved throughout. Natalie Portman can do more than writhe. She can also look happy, look sad, and moan, and she does all that like an Oscar award winner should. And I know there's a bit of controversy about how much ballet dancing she actually did, but whatever amount of this was her was impressive. A lot of times, it's hard to buy the main character as a great musician or great athlete, especially if they're supposed to represent the very best. I was never not convinced that Nina was the best little swan princess around. And, as a bonus, she writhes! The structure of this is like a powerful rock song. It develops slowly and then reaches this amazing crescendo, all crashing emotions and flurries of intense beauty, perfectly aided by the score, mostly (appropriately)from Swan Lake. And it all looks so good. Aronofsky uses so much blacks and whites that it might as well be a black and white movie, and when you do get some other colors thrown in, especially during the climactic moments of both the movie and the ballet, it's almost shocking. Black Swan isn't perfect, but it's the perfect example of a movie that you finish with your mouth wide open and one that you can't quite shake from your head for a few hours afterward.