The Black Swanâ€™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 Aronofskyâ€™s undoubted cleverness (Harvard Class of â€™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 Swanâ€™s dancing, while competently filmed, is seldom electrifying.Read the whole thingÂ there.
Aronofskyâ€™s intentions canâ€™t be understood in isolation from his last movie about a quasi-athleteâ€™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 Tchaikovskyâ€™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.