"We open our season with Swan Lake, done to death I know, but not like this..."
In Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan high art meets trash — and both get on a whole lot better than either might have expected.
That said, some exalted voices from within the ballerina profession are apparently not well pleased with this representation of their personal quests for perfection.
Indeed high brow types have been lining up to get all sniffy about this movie and its apparent lack of subtlety and its layers of genre absurdity. On Radio 3 Ann Karpf recently described it as "a preposterous load of Hollywood hokum," though she did go on to suggest that it might have been improved had Aronofsky toned it down. Funny, there were parts where I was willing him on to tone it up a bit!
I don't think I've seen any of the Italian Giallo flicks spearheaded by Dario Argento, so, unlike Dr K, when looking for genre precursors I instead find resonances in J horror and the wider world of Asian chillers, with their emphasis on reflection and possession.
Aronofsky's last film was The Wrestler, which took a view on the other end of a career at the very top of a somewhat peculiar pursuit: more washed up than pushed up. With Barbara Hershey's delicious stint as the smother mother, Black Swan could easily have been about female tennis players, but then of course the movie's team of writers would not have been able to conjure up such sympathetic magic with the dualistic themes of Tchaikovsky's most done to death work.
Grade: A (-)