The Black Swan’s central problem is that the heterosexual Aronofsky, who directed Mickey Rourke so well inÂ 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 theÂ idea of ballet far more than he cares for ballet itself. A film stronger on analysis than artfulness,Â The Black Swan’s dancing, while competently filmed, is seldom electrifying.Read the whole thingÂ there.
Aronofsky’s intentions can’t be understood in isolation from his last movie about a quasi-athlete’s alarming dedication,Â The Wrestler. Rourke portrayed a charismatic old professional grappler crucifying himself in training for one last comeback that will surely kill him. InÂ 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 masterpieceÂ Swan Lake.
The Black Swan intellectually complementsÂ 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.