Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is the movie from hell ... which is a good thing. It's the story of the sexually repressed ballerina from hell (Natalie Portman) who is tormented by the stage mother from hell (Barbara Hershey), stalked by the understudy from hell (Mila Kunis) and fondled by the company director from hell ...(Vincent Cassel). All of this hellacious drama is played out to the strains of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Comparisons have made to Polanski's Repulsion in which Catherine Deneuve goes quietly mad over a long weekend in her Paris apartment. While Deneuve's repressed manicurist's frightening walk into madness felt gradual, Portman's prima ballerina Nina's downward spiral into hell is rapid and precipitous. Aronofsky's introduces Nina as needy, unstable and borderline masochistic.

It would be easy enough to lay Nina's estrangement from sanity at the door of her controlling and whacked out Mom who doesn't know the meaning of personal boundaries or the controlling and whacked artistic director whose idea of creative tension involve forcing his tongue down Nina's throat and other appendages elsewhere.

Don't mistake, both of these characters are truly repugnant, but I think Aronofsky might be going for something else here in this film. Portman's Nina is wound so tightly by her own monomaniacal quest for transcendent perfection that she's driven herself crazy. No, the demon mother and predatory dance master don't help, but I think Aronofsky is saying that in the end we're all our own creations.


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