Review: Black Swan

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Genre: Drama
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Staring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis,
Released: December 3rd,2010

THE GENERAL IDEA

Black Swan follows the story of Nina (Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her retired ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who zealously supports her daughter’s professional ambition. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

THE GOOD

Portman just owns the screen in this film. Her role as the lead ballerina illustrates every inch of stressful depth these ballerinas go through to earn a coveted lead role in their company. Everything from her professional drive as a dancer, her self doubt, and the toll this all takes on her soul is evident in every scene. And outside of the dancing the whole hockey-mom (dancer mom? stage mom?) synergy is present too while she strains to have a real relationship with her mother who is also driving her into her career.

I did enjoy Mila Kunis as well. Probably because I wasn’t expecting much out of her since most of her roles tend to be very light and fluffy without much depth. Kunis holds her own here.

The dancing is beautiful. Too often in these movies we get fantastic actors and we have to forgive the less-than-perfect performances from these non-athletes. Or we get athletes who cannot act. Portman really deserves some props considering how amazing she looks after only one year of intense dance. I am sure a hundred takes on the camea didn’t hurt anything, but still. Impressive.

And Aronofsky has dished out another helping of heavy passionate impacting cinema. You are so sucked into how real and emotional everything is that when Nina starts to lose her mind, it really impacts just how messed up she is. The contrast is a delicate one to balance without going from too dry to too loopy, and Aronofsky does it with relative ease.

THE BAD

This might have elements that are too much for some people to enjoy. There is layer upon layer of metaphors and symbolism that tear through this movie and so much of it may go unnoticed or overwhelm.

OVERALL

Staggering impacting movie with depth that will stick with you long after you leave the theater. I quite expect to see at least an Oscar nomination for Portman for her role in this. Amazing work.

On a side note, it is also interesting to watch this movie and in the back of your head thinking “This guy is directing The Wovlerine?” Now that I am curious as hell to see.

I give Black Swan a 9 out of 10

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