Darren Aronofsky’s Commercials (2016-2018)

Following the success of his 2014 feature, NOAH, director Darren Aronofsky once again turned to the commercial world to sustain himself as he prepped his next big effort.  This chapter of his career finds Aronofsky bringing his iconoclastic vision to powerhouse establishment outlets like The New York Times and high profile fashion brands like Hugo Boss while dialing down the individuality of his artistic aesthetic to better accommodate the commercial interests of his employers.  


Aronofsky’s prior work for Yves Saint-Laurent established the director as a sought-after talent in fashion marketing.  In 2016, Hugo Boss enlisted him for “POWER OF BOSS”, a spot for their new men’s fragrance.  Starring the emerging actor Theo James, the spot exudes high-glamor and a slick, cosmopolitan vibe.  The Weeknd’s darkly seductive single “High For This” throbs over sensual closeups of bodies in motion– hands caressing bare skin, lips brushing together, and so on.  The spot contains a brief allusion to BLACK SWAN, in that Aronofsky uses mirrors and windows as a framing device to suggest the idea of “the double”, often with the subject being reflected twice-over in the glass prism. While it’s still a relatively anonymous spot, “POWER OF BOSS” further evidences Aronofsky’s ability to capture glossy, slick images in addition to the gritty, visceral visuals usually associated with his repertoire.  


In 2017, Aronofsky was hired to direct a quartet of spots for the New York Times, celebrating the role that their photojournalists play in bringing the immediacy of the news home to their readers.  Only three of the four appear to be available for public view, with Aronofsky adopting the same style of execution for each: a series of rapid-fire snapshots punctuate stretches of black while the photographer delivers a voiceover monologue (filtered to sound like a telephone call) about his or her experience in the field.  At the end of each spot, Aronofsky settles on a singular image in particular, showing how it becomes the key image for the news article it accompanies.  Aronofsky proves the right choice as the helmer of the spot, bringing his unique insights into the dark side of the human experience in the exploration of images featuring war & disease.  

As of this writing, these pair of commercials represent Aronofsky’s most recently-released works, although he’s set to release his seventh feature film MOTHER! next month.  A psychological horror starring Jennifer Lawrence, MOTHER! promises to chart territory similar to BLACK SWAN.  If early buzz is any indication, Aronofsky is set for yet another hit in a string of well-received genre pictures that have embodied his operational prime.