A Harvard graduate and fellow at the American Film Institute, Darren Aronofsky—53 years old, originally from Brooklyn—has been right from the start as a lucidly dark and wicked filmmaker. The event, his first film from 25 years ago: Pi, with an outstanding figure in the history of North American independent cinema. It is that Aronofsky has a peculiar look in seven of his disturbing films of greater or lesser mental complexity.
(You may also be interested in: Four experiential experiences from the past)
The whale (The Whale, 2022). Human drama with confusing and intimate traits, based on the poignant script adapted by Samuel Hunter from his original play. Narrative and interpretive staging processes of the good overweight man who suffers from a chronic illness, resists his physical handicaps and does not overcome the duel of a suicidal lover in his voluntary withdrawal from edible cravings. Home patient, excessively heavy, endures respiratory crises and circulatory disorders; His interpersonal relationships are disconcerting, be it with the teenage daughter he didn’t know, the intolerant ex-wife, or the confidant nurse who acts as his faithful servant.
Brendan Fraser, in the greasy and voluminous body of the intervened character, unleashes the supportive compassion of those who fear an immediate fatal outcome and the heartless reactions of distance students when it is discovered on camera who promotes the fabulous stories of Moby Dick, the white whale. Difficult private life, with some black humor: “If you are going to stick the knife in me, my daughter, you should know that my several centimeters of fat will prevent touching vital organs.” Fraser, with a double chin, is very close to the Oscar.
‘The Whale’ redeems and frees a pessimistic soul full of fears and discomforts, with the deep reflection of the suffering state of mind.
Pi, the order of chaos (1998). Extremely low-budget movie, filmed in the neighborhood where he was born. Pi, a paranoid mathematician, builds a homemade computer in search of the meaning of the number that will… “unlock the universal patterns found in nature” and…. the keys to decipher the chaos. Cabalistics, a science that studies mysteries of the supernatural or beyond, and Numerology channeled towards lodges or secret societies in the financial heart of Wall Street, in search of the enigma of existence itself and of wealth settled in the Stock Market. Bizarre, delirious and cryptic film, closed in on itself, turned into a cult film by student film clubs and video stores.
Requiem for a Dream (2000). Accurate description of the consumer addictions that affect American society, with dizzying pace and visual forcefulness. Since drug addiction falls on the members of a family determined to be happy, a certain cruel look is imposed, although spontaneously sincere around the surrounding reality. Portrait of everyday life on Manhattan grounds, being one of the sharpest and most relentless social ironies of the turn of the century made outside of Hollywood conservatism. A precocious talent, who dominates fragmented images in constant movement, he shamelessly explored emotional turmoil and one or another worrying thesis of overwhelming dimensions.
The fighter (The Wrestler, 2008). Mickey Rourke personifies and embodies the decadence of a human mass, of a loser, who day after day sees his professional wrestling career materially and spiritually crumble. Accurate x-ray of the physical and moral decline of a former star who is going through health problems and must overcome emotional difficulties to face the final fight and win the respect of her only daughter. Stark portrait of a vulnerable man, who, having known success twenty years later, must face the reality of his unfortunate psychosomatic state. The author delves into the progressive bodily degradation of the austere character and paints us alarming signs of fatigue, lack of cerebral coordination and a marked affective emptiness that aggravates his ailments.
the black swan (Black Swan, 2010). At a prestigious New York ballet company, her artistic director aims to bring out the dark side of a sick ballerina bordering on chaos. The nightmare culminates in the fetal position of her victims amid the drama of an intensive care ward. Nervous and intermittent touches, with extreme close-ups taken from advertising television: blood vessels, dilated pupils, carousels of symbols and a mess of collective ideals. Natalie Portman responded to the psychotic picture of a paranoid and self-destructive schizophrenic, between manipulative obsessions and sadomasochistic impulses in oppressive and not infrequently repulsive atmospheres.
When reviewing the unsuccessful and nondescript noah (2014) it was evident how his rich imagination contradicted itself in whimsical ramblings. To Mother (2017), with disorders and strange emotions of various kinds, the expressive Jennifer Lawrence surrounded herself with an artificial garden with her ripped-out heart in her hand. In gothic settings, the distorted mind of a lady who believed she saw strange things, first among her neighbors and then by strange visitors. It is that Lawrence revealed confusion, annoyance and complexes of persecutory tendencies, but without defining if it was supernatural fear or metaphysical anguish.
I held, five years ago, his central idea of chaos and had a fearful premonition: “the decline of someone as phenomenal as Aronofsky is feared.” But The Whale redeems and frees a pessimistic soul populated by fears and discomforts, with the deep reflection of the suffering state of mind exposed by this great author of contemporary intimate cinema.
(Read all the columns by Mauricio Laurens in EL TIEMPO, here)