01 December 2010
I made a completely off-hand joke before we watched this that Black Swan was "that ballet movie by Darren Aronofsky," which meant that it was "essentially Step Up 4: Requiem for a Dream." But really, since I'd heard that at one point this ballet story was being developed along with the wrestler's story in The Wrestler as a single film, I was more prepared for this to be in that vein than like Requiem. I'd say maybe it splits the difference, but it felt for my money like it leaned just a hair further toward the dark-surreal psychodrama of Requiem than into the exhaustive sheer physicality of The Wrestler. Either way, there is no doubt this was a Darren Aronofsky film. Actually, as I sit here and let it sink in and try to decide what I really thought of it (above and beyond "I really, really liked it"), it occurs to me that there's a healthy dose of The Fountain in here, as well, with its dreamlike structure, enfolding narratives and singularly obsessed, just-this-side-of-unsympathetic main character. So there you go.
Parts of the ambiguity and double-perspective fakeouts, particularly toward the end, felt a little overlong or repetitive to me on first viewing, but I have a strong sense this may be the fault of the viewer and not of the filmmaker. Not surprisingly I came out of the movie tense and full of nervous energy, and maybe I've been feeling a little wired/burnt-out lately and the movie just rubbed something raw in me. It's funny to sit through a scene and think, "Is this still happening? Are we here again?" and simultaneously think, "I bet that's just me, I bet I'm just antsy." Maybe I'm only defending the film because I am biased toward a filmmaker whose work I've so often loved, but I don't think so. I'm actually pretty positive that on second watching I'll be even more blown away than I was this time, though I won't mind putting a couple of days (or weeks) between me and the movie before returning. Like many Aronofsky films, it's quite the intense ride.