Saturday, February 12, 2011

Swaggering ‘Swan’

Lacking narrative surprises but very artistically told, “Black Swan” is a decidedly discomfiting film about an obsessed young woman’s gradual descent into madness, her paranoid realities blurring together quite frighteningly. The ambitious but uptight ballerina Nina, magnificently portrayed by Natalie Portman, experiences inner turmoil after landing two much-coveted roles. Her mentor and boss, played by Vincent Cassel, sees her potential for duality; all she needs to do is embrace her uninhibited side.

Darren Aronofsky reins in his wildly abstract and flashy storytelling style and successfully paints a clear and well-composed picture. His unique visual touches add flair to the simple but effective dramatic moments. So no, it’s nothing like the puzzling “The Fountain,” structure-wise. The tightly written script also helps in establishing the fragile emotional state of tragic Nina, whose exceedingly unsettling bouts with depression are always revelatory.

The other really unhappy characters are Beth, played by Winona Ryder, a disgruntled and fading ballet star, and Nina’s mom, played by Barbara Hershey, who pushes her daughter to excel after giving up on her own dreams. Mila Kunis, however, portrays someone who’s far from sulky; her adventurous and playful Lily introduces Nina to her more reckless and dangerous side. If you didn’t take Kunis seriously before (she was from “That ‘70s Show,” yes), you certainly will after seeing this.

“Black Swan” opens Feb. 23 in Metro Manila.

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