Another great Arnofsky mindbender

Another great Arnofsky mindbender

The film sometimes relies heavily on gimmicks to get a scream from the audience; however, where its strengths lie are with the acting and bold direction.

Keegan Swenson, Staff Writer

Director Darren Aronofsky is one of the most versatile, ambitious, and talented directors working in Hollywood right now. With his new film “Black Swan,” he has created perhaps his most accomplished film yet.

The film centers around dancer Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman with surprising restraint, who is competing for the star role in the new production of “Swan Lake.” The director Thomas Leroy, played by Vincent Cassel, is reluctant to cast Nina because he doesn’t feel she is daring enough to play both the black and white swan which the piece requires. Nina is a dancer who has the perfect technique down but forgets to put any true emotion into the dance; she is simply doing the steps.

Though Nina eventually gets the role, it is not anything near what she expected. Along the way, Aronoskfy puts the title character through a complete mental breakdown involving everything from cheap B-movie horror stints to detailed and horrifying hallucinations. At one point in the film Nina is pulling off her own fingernail.

The audience is never sure whether these hallucinations are real or not; this can be both effective at times but also frustrating. With so many scenes that people could interpret as real or within a character’s head, the entire story seems at times to be based in a character’s imagination. The ending scene in particular could be interpreted in several ways as to what was all real or not which will definitely leave many viewers frustrated.

The film sometimes relies heavily on gimmicks to get a scream from the audience; however, where its strengths lie are with the acting and bold direction. Portman, Mila Kunis, and Cassel all put in performances that are gritty, real, and dark.

Portman, especially, gives the best performance she has had to date, delivering her dialogue with a worried gasp that conveys her strive for perfection. But what speaks more than that is her facial reactions; the woman could convey more with a nod of her head or a longing stare than a hundred lines in the script would provide.

Kunis plays her role as Nina’s double with such fearlessness that you will forget she was ever on a Fox sitcom. Kunis was reported to train months for the physical side of the role, and it pays off with a couple of the scenes of her dancing really showing the audience who this character is.

The dazzling final act of the film, easily its finest, shows Aronofsky’s intent. The movie, at its core, comments on art as a whole and how striving for perfection is a deadly path to take.

Dealing with issues of reality, art imitating life, fear of the unknown, and the quest for perfection, Aronsoky has crafted the movie of the year. Though almost never subtle, the movie is visually striking, emotionally touching, and wholly original; one might even say perfect.