It's understandable why plenty of people don't like this movie. It wallows in some fairly shop-worn archetypes. It contains numerous "gotcha!" moments of fright that wouldn't be out of place in your average schlocky horror movie. And it obviously aspires to high art pretensions even as it proudly flaunts its trashy, campy side.
And yet...it really got me excited. Like few movies this year, it felt like a work of great ambition that not only engaged me throughout, but left me physically affected once the credits rolled. Whatever it was, I felt like I had been through an experience.
I probably shouldn't be too surprised -- I've liked Aronofsky's work in the past (well, not The Fountain.) Visually the movie is hugely impressive, full of inventive effects, glorious camera moves, and a real eye for composition that puts plenty of this year's awards contenders to shame. (My favorite shot: Hershey and Portman seated in front of the mirrors, so both appear doubled within the frame.) Libatique's grainy photography is beautiful and haunting, literally from the opening dream sequence, up until that final, riveting tour-de-force ballet climax.
I'd basically figured out what was happening plot-wise about partway through, and had my suspicion confirmed by the end credits -- a real nice touch, by the way. Question: is the film's basic premise a spoiler? I've since read some reviews that have revealed it right away, but I didn't know it going in, and was glad I had the chance to realize it on my own.
I'm essentially with the consensus here on Portman. I thought she was very strong in a dramatically taxing role -- I think her commitment to selling the material as seriously as she does goes a long way in helping the audience just go with the bizarre turns of the plot. And I, too, thought the "He picked me" moment was very nicely played. But I don't think she necessarily stands out from the other strong leading ladies this year. To sum up, I'd be fine with her winning Best Actress, but I wouldn't at all be upset if the trophy went to one of her impressive competitors either.
I was surprised by the SAG Ensemble nod, as the smallish cast isn't normally the type recognized in this way, but thinking about it, it actually makes sense. Cassell, Hershey, and Kunis were all quite good in their roles, but none of them really has enough to do to justify individual citation. I'm skeptical Kunis can go all the way to an Oscar nod -- is this really anyone's idea of "best" or just "sexiest"? -- but I did think she was well-cast and very effective.
The sound design was amazing. From the thunderous Swan Lake music, to Clint Mansell's haunting compositions, to the just-loud-enough-to-be-unsettling sound effects, the film's audio is as dreamlike and nightmarish as the images.
I don't think the writers will go for this script at all -- though if it places, it certainly shows the film has strong support -- but I wonder...even though it's billed as an original, couldn't you make a fairly decent case that this is, in fact, an adapted screenplay?
It may be batshit insane, but I haven't been able to shake Black Swan, and I can't wait to see it again.
Edited By The Original BJ on 1293084828