FNE at Venice IFF 2010: Black Swan


    BERLIN: Director Darren Aronofsky's has followed up his successful film The Wrestler with Black Swan a psychological thriller in the world of ballet. Speaking at the Biennale press conference the director said: "The more I looked into the world of wrestling and the world of ballet I saw that they were very much related to each other. Both have performers who use their bodies in these very intense physical ways. I always considered them as companion pieces.

    However, despite the fact that the director compares the two films, Black Swan is much less successful than The Wrestler, suffering from its attempt to put mix the genre of horror thriller with a psychological drama. The story plays on the Doppleganger nature of the black and white swan in the ballet Swan Lake. Nina is a ballerina of the New York City Ballet whose life is completely dedicated to her art. But she struggles with inner demons as well as tough competition and eventually descends into psychological or perhaps super-natural turmoil.

    Aronofsky has drawn outstanding performances from his actors with Natalie Portman turning in an outstanding performance as the driven ballerina that is obsessed with making her way to the top. Portman trained as a ballerina from the age of 4 to 13 and she returned to a year of intensive ballet training for the part for a year before the shooting of the film. Speaking at the press conference she said: "The film explores the artists' ego, the narcissist attraction to yourself and also the repulsion to yourself that you feel."

    Vincent Cassel plays the artistic director of the ballet who is pushing Nina to find both the good and the evil in herself to be both the black and white swans. Cassel did ballet classes everyday for six years and it is apparent that this is a world that he really knows and understands. Special mention has to go to Barbara Hershey who turns in a great performance as the overbearing ballet stage mother.

    The film is visually beautiful with great scenes of the ballet rehearsals and the sumptuous music of Piotr Tchaikovsky and choreography by New York City Ballet star Benjamin Millepied. But on the opening night of Swan Lake when Nina starts to grow feathers on her back the film moves into the territory of the absurd. Still the film should find a strong audience and do good box office as a mainstream entertainment.

    Black Swan directed by Darren Aronofsky
    Cast Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder