The Black Swan’s central problem is that the heterosexual Aronofsky, who directed Mickey Rourke so well in The Wrestler two years ago, appears more inspired by professional wrestling than by ballet. Despite Aronofsky’s undoubted cleverness (Harvard Class of ’91), he seems to love the idea of ballet far more than he cares for ballet itself. A film stronger on analysis than artfulness, The Black Swan’s dancing, while competently filmed, is seldom electrifying.
Aronofsky’s intentions can’t be understood in isolation from his last movie about a quasi-athlete’s alarming dedication, The Wrestler. Rourke portrayed a charismatic old professional grappler crucifying himself in training for one last comeback that will surely kill him. In The Black Swan, Natalie Portman plays a bland young dancer, a Little Miss Goody Toe Shoes, who destroys her health and sanity to be the prima ballerina in Tchaikovsky’s high romantic masterpiece Swan Lake.
The Black Swan intellectually complements The Wrestler in a fashion ideal for explicating in a Film Studies 101 term paper on dualities such as masculine v. feminine, experience v. innocence, heavy v. light, steroids v. bulimia, vulgar v. aristocratic, and (regrettably) moving v. overwrought.
December 7, 2010
From my review in Taki's Magazine:
Read the whole thing there.