I apologized to humanity for this film already. Now I will destroy it on a theoretical level never seen. Here we go, this film can be debased on several levels. First, it attorns the stylings of Cronenberg, Polanski and Powell & Pressburger. One sees The Fly, Repulsion and The Red Shoes so thoroughly throughout we are then forced to confront what elements Aronofsky posits: lack of an authorial input, a confused female empowerment, simple symbology that yields little impact, and a lack of a cinematographic plan. Such, as I will prove, leads to a film that works on absolutely no levels. I only could laugh at its cinematic poverty and hope for revenge with Aronofsky being sentenced in a needed future cinema court that will work along the lines of Cinematic Justice to give him only a life hard labor with no hope of parole, which the pain he will go through sums up what I felt watching his film.
Aronofsky openly borrowed from films and filmmakers. Art is formed out of other art. Yet, what he formed was too referential, too unimaginative, and probably due to lack of vision. There is no greater purpose to what he was trying to author. He just seemed to be making a pretentious film. Take the whole story for example, it is based on a two sentence description of a common and non-challenging ballet. It is ballet nonetheless to Aronofsky, so that counts as histrionics to him. He then uses his ballet film to explore the lives of ballerinas in some scenes, but this is unnecessary. He wants to create The Sporting Life at times just to say he did his ethnographic work, but the film is not trying to be about ballet. Aronofsky sets his sights on larger themes, so why do we care of the main character's feet bleed? Strike one of many for Aronosfky.
Then there is this obnoxious female empowerment, a Halloween-style patriarchal fascism of the virginal female battling her sexuality to ultimately gain sin and death. Is Aronofsky even in the 21st century? The conversation intellectually is now about ontology (Judith Butler, the Trans community's battles) and sexual positivity (the Third Wave's immense logic and that influence). The mythos that Aronofsky could of eluded to in Black Swan barely delves into the horror of female submission that has existed since the first class antagonism of man over women when Homo sapiens left tribal society. Something that Catherine Breillat's films do and with such intelligence, but where is her award show nominations and Hollywood financing? His analysis barely moves beyond that of teenager, that wonders why boys can explore and girls cannot, but cannot grasp the larger picture. Can women expect to gain strength from such a film?
With Aronosfky's symbology, he makes the good and virginal main character wear white the whole film and gives the evil one a tattoo and makes her wear black. She smokes cigarettes, does drugs and engages in promiscuous sex. She is a sitcom character put into a film that fashions itself as high art. The virgin battles this character, engages in an unneeded lesbian scene, then starts to take on her attributes. Rebelling against her authoritarian mother and coming into her own. With film, simple symbols can give one measurable result, as with the color schemes in a film like Godard's Weekend or the simple, but profound resonance of images in the films of Robert Bresson. We do not have this with Black Swan due to cinematographic issues, as I state later, but also due to the inane nature of what he expounds. Then, with his surrealist moments, Aronosfky uses the template of good battling the evil within and the fact there were swans in Swan Lake. We have Portman seeing her face on people in the street and in other main characters, but this device becomes stale quick because it's too obvious and founded on themes that cannot carry weight. And we are just uncertain of why she is battling herself. Then there is Portman turning into a black swan. The Cronenberg influenced transformation metaphor lacks Cronenberg's intellectual poeticism. It seems due to the lack of purpose for this film to exist, is Aronosfky's got is a budget to do a bit of FX and there are swans in the ballet he was supposedly inspired by, so that is why he does them.
Then the camera work leaves little to be desired. Aronosfky's admixture of cinema verite with more formalistic shots believes it is adding heightened emotion and realism to the real and surreal. Aronosfky in this film is mixing what he did in The Wrestler and The Fountain. The combination of both though was not calculated enough. Just to do a through experiment, the usage of handheld with non-handheld in Lar Von Trier's Antichrist, just to note is a film that dealt with similar themes to Black Swan, was a part of that film's system. The system of Black Swan is a cluster of images that are sometimes handheld and sometimes not, with no differentiation, which means there is not the magnification of what little Aronosfky has or could say. He has to also think his cinema verite leads to emotion or realism, so when he shoots that way sometimes, he probably then justifies it to himself later.
VERDICT: TOTAL SHIT. This is a film that has surrealism and realism, pretension, muddled feminism, influence from great filmmakers and films. This film, dealing with areas that would be SW approved, as a whole is too simple and too unaware of its pretension that we are given a crucial film. We should of come to expect this from studying Aronosfky previous work, that he doesn't have much to say, but he tries to say it in stylized (Pi, Requiem For A Dream), gimmick (Pi), psuedo-political (The Wrestler, Black Swan) and pseudo-intellectual (The Fountain, Pi, Black Swan) ways that fool the audience.