A del­i­cate and chill­ing de­light

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Wow, who knew bal­let could be so graphic – and dis­turb­ing. Black Swan is not the film you take Mum or Grandma to see be­cause of their deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for dance – prob­a­bly bet­ter to rent Red Shoes if that’s the case.

But should Ma, God bless her, have a pen­chant for Brian De Palma or David Lynch-style pyscho­sex­ual creep-outs that send a shiver down your spine and mess with your mind, she’s in for a treat.

Natalie Port­man is de­servedly draw­ing plenty of at­ten­tion for her com­plex per­for­mance as Nina, an ob­ses­sive bal­le­rina en­cour­aged to en­gage her darker im­pulses to nail the prima role in a mod­erni­sa­tion of Swan Lake.

A re­pressed per­fec­tion­ist, Nina is a nat­u­ral when chan­nelling the chaste White Swan – but when it comes to the pas­sion and volatil­ity of the Black Swan, her feath­ers are frigid.

As cap­ti­vat­ing as Port­man is, par­tic­u­larly when Nina be­gins to loosen up and please (and, um, plea­sure) her­self, the supreme achieve­ment of Black Swan is di­rec­tor Dar­ren Aronof­sky’s abil­ity to con­jure le­git­i­mate scares and an over­ar­ch­ing tone of un­ease.

Horror di­rec­tors should take notes.

For me, the Swan Lake nar­ra­tive that plays out both on stage and in the lives of Nina and her off­sider Lily (Mila Ku­nis), is novel but not com­pelling, and the con­stant re­in­force­ment of the char­ac­ters’ light/dark di­chotomy gets a bit tir­ing.

But when Aronof­sky flicks the switch to crazy, Black Swan is a chill­ing and del­i­cate de­light.

As Nina’s con­trol­ling, jeal­ous mother, Bar­bara Her­shey is a force of pas­sive-ag­gres­sive ghast­li­ness – the term ‘‘ sweet girl’’ is for­ever sul­lied – while the bursts of body-horror – ripped fin­gers, the ex­treme mis­use of a nail file and Nina’s ‘‘fowl’’ meta­mor­pho­sis – are rem­i­nis­cent and just as ef­fec­tive as the vis­ual dis­com­fort that punc­tu­ated Re­quiem For a Dream, which I be­lieve still re­mains Aronof­sky’s mag­num opus and one of the most hor­rific movies ever made.

But Black Swan be­hind.

isn’t too far

Eyes on the prize: A quest for per­fec­tion may cost a bal­le­rina her

san­ity in Black Swan, re­quir­ing a fan­tas­ti­cally-frac­tured per­for­mance

from Natalie Port­man.

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