ARONOFSKY FILM REMINDS EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOTHERS OF DE PALMA
Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan opened in select North American theaters this past weekend, and the reviews comparing the film to the work of Brian De Palma and Roman Polanski are piling up. The initial Variety review compared Black Swan superficially to De Palma's Sisters and Femme Fatale, and a couple of the recent reviews add De Palma's Carrie into the mix, apparently due in large part to the mother role played by Barbara Hershey. Here's a rundown:
Ray Pride, New City
"Simultaneously pretentious and lurid, ripe with mirrors, doubles, mirrorings, dopplegangers, Black Swan‘s temper is pitched at the level of a Brian De Palma adaptation of Polanski’s Repulsion that’s convinced it’s being directed by Stanley Kubrick."
Scott Weinberg, FearNet
"Perhaps it's just because I naturally look for these sorts of things, but throughout the whole of Aronofsky's piece I caught glimpses of the early thrillers from Nicolas Roeg, Roman Polanski, Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, and (yes) even some quick dashes of David Cronenberg."
Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"Black Swan calls to mind, more dramatically and more deeply than anything since the heyday of Brian De Palma, the work—and the life—of Alfred Hitchcock, all the more so since Aronofsky brings Natalie Portman’s naturally cold performance style to bear on the character of Nina in precisely the way that Hitchcock brilliantly employed Tippi Hedren, in The Birds and Marnie, to embody a porcelain perfection that was essentially the subject of both films. All three films are stories of possessive mothers and absent fathers."
Richard von Busack, Mr. MovieTimes
"The wildness of Black Swan’s color is a treat in a cinematic world where we’re putting up with the worst color since 1932, thanks to endless computerized twiddling. Some of the awed reception of Black Swan seems to reflect the need for a great movie this time of year—or is it mindfulness of Michael Powell’s broken-hearted ghost, grieving at those who couldn’t succumb to The Red Shoes? Black Swan is less like Powell and much more like a Brian De Palma film, anyway—it’s a film of technical virtuosity, shock and voyeurism, but without De Palma’s sense of play or wit."
J. Hoberman. The Village Voice
"Not body but ballet horror, Black Swan is a Red Shoes/Repulsion/Carrie mash-up, slathered with Dario Argento cheese."
Richard Corliss, TIME
"It's reminiscent of older, better movies: the late-'40s backstage dramas A Double Life (Ronald Colman plays Othello and becomes fatally jealous of his actress ex-wife) and the classic ballet melodrama The Red Shoes; and of films about tender, troubled psyches — I won't say which ones — by Roman Polanski, Dario Argento, Brian De Palma, David Cronenberg and David Fincher. Black Swan also takes a view of women that might kindly be described as old-fashioned."
Dann Gire, Daily Herald
"Black Swan effortlessly escorts us into Nina’s paranoia with living daydreams and nightmares, some violent, some overtly sexual. Aronofsky dabbles in the sort of hallucinatory sleight-of-narrative perfected by Brian De Palma, but never crosses into the realm of exploitation or cheap shock value."
Jeannette Catsoulis, npr
"Gorgeous and glacial, ecstatically photographed and wonderfully acted — Cassel's wordless play of expressions when Nina finally kisses him in character as the Black Swan is remarkable — Black Swan feels frustratingly incomplete. Obsession and repression are powerful themes, but you have to take them somewhere. It's not enough simply to emulate Dario Argento's glam-goth palette, David Cronenberg's bodily invasions, Adrian Lyne's softcore menace (a nightclub scene is right out of Jacob's Ladder) and Brian De Palma's demented sensibility. For all the influences on display, the one filmmaker who might have taken Black Swan from the lurid to the lyrical is Polanski: Take a look at Catherine Deneuve cowering in her apartment in Repulsion and tell me I'm wrong."
Al Kratina, The Montreal Gazette
"Darren Aronofsky's latest film is nothing if not filmic insanity, with all the showy formalism of a Brian De Palma film mixed with the delirium of Oliver Stone and a rotten batch of mescaline. But there's something so captivating about it's swirling, deliberate psychosis."
Jordan Hoffman, UGO
"Dario Argento's Showgirls goes Lincoln Center? Sure, why not? Argento is just one beloved auteur who may come to mind. This tale of a young ballerina descending into a self-designed madness as she strives for artistic perfection had me flashing on the Brian De Palma of Sisters and Carrie and the Polanski of Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby. One could also describe it as a feminine Fight Club. All of these analogies are valid (and all are comparisons to worthy films - even Showgirls) but what's most important (and what I hope doesn't get diluted amidst all the name-dropping) is that Black Swan is very much its own movie. Its balance of horror tropes and formidable performances against a high culture milieu is innovative and fresh and very, very watchable."
Lou Lumenick, New York Post
"This eye-popping, inspired and often-demented (in a good way) cross between The Red Shoes and All About Eve channels horror maestros David Cronenberg, Brian De Palma and Dario Argento. It’s also something of a companion piece to Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (the unsettling ending is very similar) but far surpasses the earlier film."
Benjamin Sutton, The L Magazine
"As for Hershey playing the mother of all mothering mothers, Brian De Palma’s Carrie repeatedly came to mind."
Damon Wise, Virtual Neon
"At the moment, the film, for me, is still too fresh to filter, but I suspect that once it has settled, and I've stopped wondering why it reminded me of films as diverse as Brian De Palma's Sisters, P&P's Black Narcissus and John Cassavetes' Opening Night, it will reveal itself as a film of great power and longevity."
Greg Christie, twitch
"Essentially, Black Swan is Repulsion & Perfect Blue by way of Showgirls with heavy influences of Brian De Palma & Kenneth Anger thrown in for good measure. In fact, I think I could easily liken this to the work of the Kuchar Brothers as well. With a combination like that, this should play like gangbusters for the cult set. The problem is that this isn't nearly as intelligent of a mindfuck as Repulsion or Perfect Blue. It tries to be a slow burn but comes across as just plain dull for the first hour. Until Natalie Portman starts to turn into a fucking Swan at the end of Act 2, nearly every line of dialogue and every character is about as cliché as they come. And for all of the hokey dialogue and sleazy sex, it lacks the guilty pleasure thrills of Showgirls or the full on psychedelic imagery of Mr. Anger."
Jesse Hawken, via Twitter
"Black Swan is Brian De Palma's first film since Redacted."