Terrific to see women critics embracing Black Swan. After the cut, a few men who don’t get off on it to same degree.
The New York Times’ Manola Dargis sees everything in Black Swan that the National Board of Review missed:
Played by Natalie Portman in a smashing, bruising, wholly committed performance, the young dancer, Nina, looks more like a child than a woman, her flesh as undernourished as her mind…. It‚Äôs easy to read ‚ÄúBlack Swan‚Äù as a gloss on the artistic pursuit of the ideal. But take another look, and you see that Mr. Aronofsky is simultaneously telling that story straight, playing with the suffering-artist stereotype and having his nasty way with Nina, burdening her with trippy psychodrama and letting her run wild in a sexcapade that will soon be in heavy rotation on the Web… Together they create the solid foundation of truth that makes the slow-creeping hallucinatory flights of fantasy all the more jolting and powerful… ‚ÄúBlack Swan‚Äù is visceral and real even while it‚Äôs one delirious, phantasmagoric freakout.
USA Today, Claudia Puig
To induce a state of dread and mesmerize with beauty is a rare, paradoxical achievement… Like the most macabre nightmares, Black Swan plunges headlong into the dark side. Writer/director Darren Aronofsky fashions a terrifying tale that juxtaposes the grace of a dance film against a twisted horror backdrop. At the center of this dreamlike story is Natalie Portman’s exquisite performance of a troubled ballerina who evolves from timid to seriously unhinged.
New York Daily News, Elizabeth Weitzman
Aronofsky and his three screenwriters walk a thin line throughout, skirting overwrought melodrama without actually falling in. That’s a near-impossible task, requiring considerable skill from everyone involved. Portman, who does most of her own dancing, rises to the occasion with unexpected depth… It’s Aronofsky, though, who deserves the final bow. He has always boasted a unique vision, but as any dancer can attest, it takes years of hard work and discipline to corral talent into art.