Best Movies of All Time + [Vincent Cassel]

BLACK SWAN

BLACK SWAN

You can watch the trailer here

When a film generates as much Oscar buzz as Black Swan has since its arrival at film festivals a few months ago, you can be sure I'll be one of the first in line to see it. I had an opportunity to see the film about a month ago at an early screening, but it conflicted with my work schedule, so I had to wait like the rest of society. Due to its limited release, I had to drive about forty minutes away on the freeway in order to see the movie, and let me tell you right now: it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Black Swan follows a young ballerina named Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) who is vying for the lead role in the company's upcoming rendition of "Swan Lake." After all her hard work, she is finally awarded the part, but this proves to be a little bit problematic. Thomas (Vincent Cassel), the director of the ballet, has re-imagined the role for the lead to play both the White Swan and the Black Swan, a feat which he believes Nina unable to fulfill. She struggles throughout the film as she tries to embody both roles, all the while fighting off an apparent opponent for the part in Lily (Mila Kunis) who appears to be doing everything in her power to sabotage Nina's chance at stardom.

To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the screenplay for most of the movie. I thought it was good, but everything seemed to be held together by Portman's performance (more on that in a second). However, the final scenes of the film are really the selling point. I won't go into detail because I would never want to ruin the surprise, but I will say that I found the final resolution to be absolutely beautiful.

And now, where can I even begin with Miss Natalie Portman? I've been a fan of hers since I first saw her grace a screen (although for much of that time, it was purely based on her stunning beauty). However, I gradually began to see her expand as an actress, and when I heard about Black Swan about a year ago, I began to let myself grow an eager excitement. Ladies and gentlemen, she does not disappoint. Portman takes us through every stage of stress-induced psychosis, all the way to the film's final scene. The character arc she brings is extreme, and she really got the chance to show off her wide range. It should be noted that Cassel and Kunis, as well as Barbara Hershey (who plays Nina's mother), are all very good themselves, but this really is Natalie's show. I can definitely see an Oscar in her near future.

If anyone else deserves a commendation, it's Darren Aronofsky for his stellar direction. I don't often talk about the director's role in the filmmaking process, but here, it bears mention. Aronofsky, whose previous films include Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, holds nothing back this time around. He has placed his stamp on a trippy set of films, and Black Swan is definitely no different. He creates a fascinating world of seeming insanity, and we can see and feel the emotional distress that Nina feels as she slowly loses her mind. I honestly can't really explain this all - I'm drawing a blank as to how to word it - but Aronofsky has easily put forth his best career effort with this film.

I could probably go on and on about the psychology of this film (trust me, I could talk for hours on end about it), but I'll spare you all that for the moment. However, I have found a rather fascinating review from The Globe and Mail's Rick Groen about the film that you may enjoy. Trust me when I say that you should absolutely see this film. I know I'll be making another trek to the theater to see it one more time, although I'll be waiting until the release expands to somewhere a little closer. But please, do yourself a favor and see this movie.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: A
Current All-Time Rank: Best - #23
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