Black Swan (2010)

Posted: December 19, 2010 in *NEW!!*, Psychological

I loved this fucking movie! The director Darren Aronofsky also directed other such great films like Pi, Requiem For A Dream and one of my favorites of the past 10 years, The Wrestler.  I was at first hesitant to review this because I thought going into it that it would be more in the psychological thriller category…Which is is, but it most certainly is still a horror film. It may be one of the most unsettling and unique ones I’ve seen in a very long time.

Nina Sayers played by Natalie Portman, is a ballet dancer at a New York company, trying to make her way to center stage. When the company’s prima ballerina suddenly retires, Nina tries for the now open part of queen swan in the production of “Swan Lake”. The story of Swan Lake is very tragic one. There once was a princess who was turned into a white swan. The only way she could break free from her swan form was from the magic of true love. The swan finally met her prince and was going to be free, but the prince was tricked by the good swan’s evil twin, the black swan. Knowing that she would never become a princess again and would be trapped forever, the white swan killed herself.

(Winona Ryder as Beth, the ex-prima ballerina)

The manager of the company, Thomas, casts Nina because of her wonderful dancing and portrayal of the white swan. She is fragile and timid, innocent and pure.  But Thomas cannot see the role in her of the black swan, whom she must also play. The black swan is sensual and commanding, charismatic and dances with reckless abandon. Nina’s life of pressures; her eating disorder, constant training and overbearing mother have turned her into a living doll. To try to control the chaos in her life, Nina has made her dancing mechanical and perfect, never a step out of place. Then a new girl joins the company named Lily, played by Mila Kunis. Lily is everything Nina isn’t; dark, dangerous, carefree—perfect for the role of the black swan. Lily pulls Nina into her world, and from there things start to get freaky.

I was so drawn in by this movie. I’m trying to figure out how to even convey how I felt about it because a.) I have limited writing ability and b.) I can’t really think of the words to describe it. Included in those words would be frantic, claustrophobic, paranoid, and confused. These were all things I felt in Nina’s character, a girl who was so dedicated and determined literally be perfect that her real life became the dream and Swan Lake became her reality. Her descent into complete delusion was moving and the ending sequence was beautiful and heart-breaking. I want to say more but I just can’t spoil it. All I can say is that I was invested in Nina so much and was so sucked in and her descent into darkness was perfection. I found Natalie P’s performance to be tremendous in this film.

The subtleties of this movie were wonderful. I especially liked the use of bird-like sounds while Nina was dancing, the tap tap tap of feet on the floor or a whoosh of wind caused by the flapping of wings. These became more and more apparent as Nina became more and more delusional toward the end of the film. More obvious was the use of mirrors throughout the film, which gain more symbolism as Nina’s self-identity comes more into question. I was impressed with the authentic portrayal of the ballet industry. I’m not a ballet dancer obviously, but had several dedicated dancer friends growing up. It was not always a pretty picture. This film showed those parts….Broken toenails and blisters, blood, nasty feet…I was very squeamish during many scenes, including any and ALL of the ones involving fingernails or tiny cuts, etc. Honestly that is more disturbing to me that seeing a guy get hacked to death with a chainsaw. In addition, even if you don’t like this movie, it just LOOKS great. The photography is gorgeous.

I could really go on about this but you just have to go out and see the film. I’d have to say that this is the second ballet-oriented horror film I’ve ever seen, second to the fabulous Suspiria! Black Swan is for fans of girl on girl action, feathers and gross skin problems.

  1. Grammar Nazi says:

    Cinematography, not photography.

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