Friday, October 14, 2016

Portman, Kunis, and Aronofsky: A Ménage à trois

By: Mary Kiser

Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star in the 2010 Black Swan. Their performances both solo and together are the resonance to this movie's symphony with Darren Aronofsky as their orchestrator. The two actresses and director create a psychologically-thrilling masterpiece that leaves their audience in nail-biting trepidation. In true Aronofsky style, the final performance curtains with the spotlight on the aftershocks of mental illness.

Portman plays Nina, a fragile and frigid woman who embodies the stereotypical ballerina look and lifestyle. She has a petite stature, gaunt build, and pristine features. However, her mental state is in complete disarray. Anorexic and bulimic tendencies appear like pivotal drops of rain before a thunderstorm, but the stress of her new role, mother, and competition transform Nina's manageable issues into a train wreck of schizophrenic delusions.

Kunis plays Lilly, an edgy young woman who is less like a ballerina and more like a dancer. She is the Black Swan to Nina's White Swan, but Lilly is not Nina’s latent enemy. The two meet, and Nina spirals faster. Instead of sweaty palms or a faster pulse, she experiences extreme paranoia, heightened affliction, and rebarbative visions. Despite their transcendent ecstasy, Nina and Lilly are two rivals that come to a deadly crossroads. Aronofsky has his eye on their affair the entire time, and his direction leads them to their final act.

On IMDb, close to 600,000 people rate Black Swan with an 8/10. Portman and Kunis enamor onscreen and Aronofsky conducts his talents off screen. This trio produces, in my opinion, one of the best films about the gravity of mental illness. Put on your best suit or prepossessing dress because Swan Lake is a gripping tale no longer exclusive to the stage.



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