1) The Trailer
The official trailer of Black Swan is one of the best ever. I remember seeing it for the first time and being absolutely mesmerised. It does everything a trailer should do- look good, create interest, leave the viewer wanting more, leave the viewer wanting to watch the film and also become unforgettable. There are barely any trailers that I've seen, not only this year but ever that match up to the beauty and the mystery of Black Swan's trailer.
2) The Posters
3) The cast
Natalie Portman delivers the performance of a lifetime in Black Swan. Her Nina is this beautiful, scared, ephemeral, pure woman who has to embrace her darker side. She is a top-class ballerina who, after a lifetime of dedicated perfectionism, gets the lead in her ballet company's new production of Swan Lake. However she is only ideal for the white swan side, and has trouble embracing the black swan side of her character. Add to that she is being constantly ridiculed and seduced by director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), is facing competition from free-spirited Lily (Mila Kunis), and her overprotective mother Erica (Barbara Hershey). All this soon starts to affect her mind and her grip on reality as the story of Swan Lake takes over her life. Portman portrays all aspects of Nina- her reservations, her desires, her fears, her insanity, her malevolence; such that her last line "I was perfect" becomes a fact. And a damn good one at that. Her hard work into getting into the shape and mindset of a professional ballerina reminds me of Adrien Brody in The Pianist, who lost a great amount of weight and learned to play Chopin and hence won the Oscar for his portrayal of Wladyslaw Szpilman.
The next best role was that of Barbara Hershey as the mother/the Queen. She channeled Margaret White and a certain Mrs. Bates for this role. Even a bit of Michele Pfeiffer from White Oleander. She was creepy as hell. She tries to control Nina's life to the extreme and treats her as a little girl, her "sweet girl" so much so that she even dresses her, and cuts her nails and regulates her going in and out. Her paintings are just as weird, and the fact that she cries while she paints them does help her creep factor quite a bit. She is a failed ballerina, and despite the fake frigid smile on her face while wishing good luck, she wants Nina to be one too. It's quite a brilliant and chilling performance.
Vincent Cassel is a sexgod and his Thomas is one too. I love the way he seduces Nina to bring out the black swan in her. He is the only one who sees this side of her, and if it wasn't for his advances, the quite virtuous Nina would not have broken into the new characater, or side. Mila Kunis is very good too. She, like Portman, practiced for months before to become a ballerina onscreen. She embodies the black swan in her role, and the stark contrast to Nina is commendable. Their sexual "encounter" is very graphic, but quite necessary. Winona Ryder is also there as the ex-queen ballerina Beth, who gets replaced by Nina. I love Winona Ryder to bits and hope that this excellent albeit tiny role would get her into the game again.
4) The Film
Oh what a film! Aronofsky has delivered a cinematic melodramatic gem that will be loved for many many years to come. The entire concept, of taking a overly-secured ballerina, with a prolonged childhood and mixing in it the elixir of Swan Lake...genius!! It is visually stunning masterpiece. Everything from the beauty of ballerinas and their outfits, to the effects that show Nina's degarding mind is excellent. The music of Tchaikovsky adds immensely to the drama and the splendour of the film. The themes of light and dark, of sexuality and parental control, of control and release, of love and lust, of life and death is what the film consists of. All the characters show this, but especially Nina. I personally thought the ending was brilliant, but it still confused me a bit. As did the whole film. I can't help it but a part of me thinks that all of it was Nina's imagination, or maybe that she was Beth herself. It raises many questions on psychology, most importantly on those peole who have been performers all their lives and how that affects them. The details are minute and expertly put. The choreography is just beautiful and touching and shocking.
This film hits you over and over again, but in a good way. Aronofsky can show the degradation of human mind expertly, like how he did in Requiem for a Dream, but he has really polished his craft in this film.
Oscar predictions- I think Natalie Portman has the the Best Actress Oscar in the bag. The film, Aronofsky, score, editting, costume and Hershey for Supporting Actress should get nominated.