Review: Trance (2013)


After turning his attention to curating the illuminating London Olympics opening ceremony over the summer months, acclaimed BAFTA award-winning director Danny Boyle returns to his cinematic home with his latest feature effort Trance: a hypnotic and delirious, yet overstuffed and often baffling psychological crime thriller that sees him work from a script co-written by regular screenwriter John Hodge and new recruit Joe Ahearne. Continue reading “Review: Trance (2013)”

Interview With The Monk Director Dominik Moll

As of last Friday, The Monk, the latest adaptation of Matthew Lewis’ revered and controversial eighteenth-century novel, made its way into select cinemas across the U.K.

The film, co-written and directed by Dominik Moll, centers on Ambrosio (Vincent Cassel), an acclaimed monk who, after becoming entranced by a masked figure (Déborah François) who takes shelter in the monastery, is lead down a Continue reading “Interview With The Monk Director Dominik Moll”

Review: The Monk (2011)

Abandoned on the doorstep of a monastery in Spain, Ambrosio (Vincent Cassel) becomes a devout friar known far and wide for his ethics and traditionalism, much like the Capuchin monks who raised him. However, after suffering a series of terrorising dreams, he becomes entranced by a masked figure who takes shelter in the monastery. Discovering the figure is actually a woman named Valerio (Déborah François), Ambrosio seduces her, beginning his slow descent into a world of sin.

The Monk, based on Matthew Lewis’ revered and controversial eighteenth century novel of the same name, positions itself strongly as a character-driven Continue reading “Review: The Monk (2011)”

Review: Black Swan (2010)

Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller is a twisted adaptation of the famous ballet Swan Lake that blurs the boundaries between high art and exploitation film.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is consumed by her obsession of being the perfect ballerina. When Nina learns that the principal ballerina, Beth (Winona Ryder), is being let go at the end of the season, she sees an open door that could lead to hear dreams coming true. But the arrival of Lily (Mila Kunis), a naturally talented and laid-back ballerina, brings her self-esteem issues to the forefront.

Nina wins the role of the Swan Queen in the company’s production of Swan Lake, and it soon begins to take its toll on Nina as practices become more grueling and the company’s director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), plays mind games with her.As her life is ever more consumed by ballet, she begins to get more in touch with her dark side – a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

Black Swan highlights the savageness of performance and the innumerable issues that come from an aspiration for perfection. Nina is a newcomer, her problems are all related to the inherent worry of making an affecting first impression and bettering her counterparts. The thematic elements used work together to make Black Swan feel like vital, candid and ultimately contemporary tale; almost like a culmination of the director’s masterfully distinctive filmmaking style that’s developed over the past twelve years.

Matthew Libatique’s evasive and intense cinematography beautifully captures Nina’s fracturing mental state, her delusions and perpetual anxieties, masterfully blending reality and illusion. The claustrophobia of Nina’s shattered mind is superbly transposed to the sheer, heart-pounding ebullience of the stage, capturing in detail every affliction Nina suffers in her bid for perfection, while equivalently showcasing ballet as a undeniably majestic art form.

Clint Mansell’s take on Tchaikovsky’s famous score is tremendous. Not only does the music stay true to the heart of Swan Lake, but it and adds new themes, motifs and emotions; complimenting, and enhancing, the film’s sinister nature magnificently.

Portman is truly exquisite as Nina, embodying the character of a young woman paralysed by her torturous desire for perfection desperately trying maintain a grip on her sanity faultlessly. We witness Nina simultaneously at her most exposed and her most barbaric, reaching her zenith with a sharp, enticing career-defining dance, much like Portman’s career-best performance.

The supporting performances are equally strong: Cassel wonderfully sordid as the company’s director; Kunis remarkably piercing and intoxicating as Lily; Hershey as Nina’s overpowering mother, Erica; and Ryder making the most of her limited screen-time as Beth, embracing the film’s demented nature and enveloping the mania of her cutthroat character.

Black Swan is thoroughly captivating, wonderfully shredding the human soul down to the bone and forces the audience into Nina’s disintegrating mind. The depth of the film builds up to a compelling, fantastical and veracious crescendo, the final performance, which works equally as a fitting conclusion, and as an astonishing validation of the ruthless art of perfection.

In simple terms, it’s an utterly tremendous cinematic masterpiece.