Tuesday, 1 February 2011

I Saw This: Black Swan

It’s been a long time since a film has been released that almost everyone has seen and has a strong opinion on; it’s a fairly even spread of applause and annoyance – I’ve heard everything from “loved it” to feeling “cheated and violated” after watching it.

I’m not sure that it really deserves the divide. I found it fun to watch but lacking in any real development and brimming with outrageous clichés. Darren Aronofsky is anything but subtle and from the start we’re treated to the first glimpse of the split personality that dominates the film.

Nina – fragile, tense, thorough and prone to self harm is awarded the role of her life playing the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. She is perfect for the White Swan but there is uncertainty about her ability to embody the edgier Black Swan. Pressure is piled on her from every angle, pressure to succeed and pressure to fail. Her mollycoddling mother, her sleazy director, her jealous fellow dancers and her own unerring ambition crush down on her.

She is under constant scrutiny. Lily, her rebellious, confident understudy seems to be lurking in every shadow waiting to steal the part from under her feet, her mother’s haunting portraits laugh at her, her own reflection betrays her. We enter a rapidly deteriorating world of doppelgangers, mirrors, dreams, slips of consciousness and fantasy until reality is lost and we can no longer define the true from the imaginary.

While in many ways completely silly, Black Swan has flashes of great paranoid horror and classic suspense but it’s undermined by an exaggerated ending and comical villains.

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