‘Black Swan’: Aronofsky’s Requiem for Perfection

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) just wanted to be the perfect, even if meant throwing up in bathroom toilets, scratching out her skin and practicing pirouettes until her toes bleed. Nina just wanted to be the perfect swan like Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), the former Swan Queen, in Thomas Leroy’s (Vincent Cassel) new ballet production of ‘Swan Lake.’

But adding Portman’s character’s desire for perfection with director Darren Aronofsky vision and Clint Mansell’s music, the film “Black Swan” becomes another recipe for a “Requiem for a Dream” — only this time, the nightmare-inducing drugs that control the central character’s life are ballet.

Once again, Aronofsky pulls off that intense, hard-hitting narrative of how dreams can spiral out of control, realizing the fact that holding on to that dream is the harder than achieving the dream itself. After all, where does life even go after you’ve become the Swan Queen?

Like Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream,” the music of the movie becomes almost as gripping as the movies themselves. In the case of “Black Swan,” the music composed by Clint Mansell — who also wrote the musical score for “Requiem for a Dream” — becomes another overbearing character, whose song and silences keep the audience at the edges of their seats.

Of course, the acting and cast are absolutely fabulous as well. Natalie Portman supplies an Oscar-worthy performance, transforming from a rigid dancer to a seductive swan on stage. Meanwhile, the former star of the television hit “That 70’s Show,” Mila Kunis, is sexy and conniving as the supporting star Lily, Portman’s main rival for the spotlight on stage and screen. Lastly, actress Barbara Hershey plays Erica Sayers, the vicious, concerned mother who lives vicariously through her daughter, a former ballerina who gave up her dream for Nina.

As the plot of ‘Swan Lake’ becomes interwoven with the plot of “Black Swan,” the ingenious screenplay, written by Mark Heyman, Andre Heinz and John McLaughlin, reveals how far one is willing to go in order to achieve one’s dreams for perfection.


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