After a couple of false starts, I finally got to see Black Swan yesterday – and my was it worth the wait! Although far from perfect (more on that shortly) it was perhaps the most mesmerising film that I have seen in a very long time. Right from the transfixing opening scene – Aranofsky’s direction, using very close steady cam and sweeping boom shots, puts you right there, front and centre for what has to be one the most riveting lead performances of recent memory.
Unlike with Knightly, there has never been any question in my mind as to Natalie Portman’s acting ability or her beauty… from her debut in the fabulous Leon, through the brilliance of Closer and even in cameo appearances Portman never fails to impress or attract. However, no previous performance comes anywhere close in comparison to this. She delivers every subtle nuance of childlike naïve fragility, abused psychosis and both virginal frigidity bound with frustrated sexiness in the most believable portrayal of Nina. Vincent Cassel is brilliant too – but make no mistake, this is Portman’s film.
Career defining? Absolutely! Award worthy? Most definitely!
Now, if I am being very picky I think for me the film would be made even better with a little tweaking around the edges. There are (in my opinion) two or three gratuitous scare scenes and I would have chopped the first transformation scene altogether – all in all we are talking maybe editing out 2 minutes in total as the quality of the storytelling and acting make these small scenes redundant – however, judging from the audience reaction on the night I might be in the minority on this one!