Black Swan really is a film like no other this year. It’s beautifully directed, acted quite well, incredibly shot and scored, but with a troubled screenplay. The story is too damn silly to be good, but overall it’s a very artsy film.
Natalie plays Nina, a ballerina in her 20s, a very dedicated artist, but fragile, vulnerable when it comes to her day to day life. Her life changes when she gets her big break, the leading role in Swan Lake, and the pressure of the role, added to her lesbian crush on one of her colleagues provokes a mental breakdown, hallucinations of unimaginable proportions. It’s an extremely difficult role to do right, both on the physicality of it, and also on nailing the character arc.
Natalie’s training for this role was often used as a trick in campaigning, to get voters’ sympathy, considering this type of dedication, or deglam in other cases, always works. But in the case of Natalie, I have no problem with the shameless mentioning of the process of preparing for the role, because it somehow both justifies the perfect casting, and it also prepares the actress in learning about her character – and you can tell it works perfectly.
The physicality of the performance helps not just in making the character believable and the performance relevant, but it also gives almost more than needed in creating dance scenes that feel great beyond the requirements. I’ll say it now: my favorite scene of hers comes towards the end, when she’s first hitting the stage as the black swan. Her face expression is what I imagine to be perfection for the role, but the way her body moves, that rhythm is something sublime, unexpected, Natalie is completely in control of a character that’s completely lost in its own character.
But besides the dancing there’s also a difficult emotional aspect. What seems at first to be a bit of hesitation or too much ingenuity in Natalie’s performance is quickly justified by what she’s trying to do with the character and by the knock-out transformation throughout, that she’s preparing. Natalie can play innocent and delicate and she completely proves it here; her acting inspires the type of gentleness that perfectly fits the horror of what’s happening to her, and her reactions of fear, terror and insecurity are perfectly acted, as pure, believable reactions from the character.
And how cool are the pulling-out-feathers scene or her confident arrogance when applying the makeup us just before the show starts?! It’s a complicated role, and even when the story’s just too much, Natalie is there to keep everything in control and move the focus from the distracting dialogue or narrative to her – because she’s almost in every scene and it’s the type of justifiable showy acting that just grabs all of our attention.
And a showy role it is, but never mommie dearest or B series horror, because Natalie also brings humanity to the character (which I noticed better while watching it for the second time), makes it believable, while she’s also on the safe hands of the fantastic Darren Aronofsky. It’s an impressive performance, unique, like no other lately, and it’s quite great, so considering all the praises I gave I must go with , though it’s more of a 4.5 but I’m feeling generous right now. Just imagine what the role could’ve been in the hands of the (even slightly) wrong actress.