Ouch. I’ve never spent so much time in a film, focused upon – literally – the leathery skin of cuticles, tough toes, and fleshy ear lobes from which earrings go on and off, on and off. Yep, Darren Aronofsky’s BLACK SWAN is all fingers fingers toes toes, abused in such new and uncomfortable ways that you’ll vow to never use a pair of nail scissors again. EVER. And you thought the movies didn’t have the power to change your life! Once again, and with a different DP (THE WRESTLER = Maryse Alberti and BLACK SWAN = Matthew Libatuque), Aronofsky is (literally) following behind a struggling performer, this one’s insecurities expressed as meek, worried perfectionism as opposed to Micky Rourke’s loud bravado. But unlike THE WRESTLER, BLACK SWAN is a horror film, really, and the most beautiful horror film to emerge in a good long time. True to form, Aronofsky keeps his protagonist’s head squarely in the middle of the frame as he trails behind troubled Nina (Natalie Portman), her bun bobbing along top her emaciated frame.
The catchiest tagline right now for BLACK SWAN, director Darren Aronofsky’s follow up to THE WRESTLER, is “psychosexual thriller.” It might also billed as an action flick, what with all of Natalie Portman’s jumps, twirls, plies, her mad dashes down hallways and corridors, her rampant mirror smashing, her feverish dancing in a sweaty, crowded nightclub and her boisterous “lezzy fantasy.” Shot handheld, much of it from Portman’s point of view, it makes for a frantic, seat-gripping hour and a half.