Black Swan (2010)

[Editor’s Note: This is the 250th film in 2016 that I have seen for the first time. I don’t know how I didn’t see it before, but I was at 249, and what could be more perfect for 250 than a movie about losing your mind? Anyway.]

Wow. I mean, oh my goodness.

I don’t think I’ve seen a more visceral, genuinely terrifying film all year. I’m still trying to discern between what was real and what wasn’t, and I definitely feel an itch on my back now…

Black Swan is about Nina (Natalie Portman), a New York City ballerina who wants to play the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. The show’s director (Vincent Cassel) finds her perfect for the gentle, elegant role of the White Swan, but far too innocent to be the seductive and sensual Black Swan, so he tries to force that part out of her.

As Nina becomes more and more like the Black Swan, she descends into what can most simply be described as madness, transforming into a threat to both herself and others. Nina begins to have hallucinations that become more and more graphic and sexually charged, and it’s clear that she might literally be killing herself in the pursuit of a perfect performance. (Speaking of a perfect performance, check out all the actors in this film. I can’t even pick just one; they’re all amazing.)

I can’t say I’ve seen all of director Darren Aronofsky’s films, but I’ve gone crazy over what I’ve seen so far, and this is no exception. The man is a visionary, treating every frame, scene, and cut like a precious chance to innovate. He’s crafted a film so sharp that it can get under your skin with ease, and then linger there like a virus.

Everybody should see this film at least once. It shows what cinema can be if done with the right amount of inspiration. Sure, it’s a little too much in the twisty third act, a bit too melodramatic for my tastes, but it remains electrifying to behold. It’s unnervingly brilliant. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all…

3.5 Green

Black Swan is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.

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