Let me start off by saying I'm not a huge Aronofsky fan. I still need to re-experience Requiem for a Dream, as the last attempt was in the middle of the night when I was much younger and I fell asleep halfway through. I thought The Fountain was one of the most boring (though pretty) films I've ever seen. I did really enjoy The Wrestler, though. All that being said, I went into this movie both knowing it was supposedly one of if not the best movie of the year mixed with my previous feelings for the director's films... and I wasn't sure what to expect.

Black Swan tells the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina obsessed with perfection. She's very child-like, coddled by her obsessive and controlling mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), a woman whose own dreams for the ballet were dashed when she was younger. Nina is soon casted in Thomas' (Vincent Cassel) own version of Swan Lake where the lead must play both the White Swan and the Black Swan. Thomas isn't sure Nina can pull of the Black Swan despite being magnificent at the White Swan role. Meanwhile, a new ballerina named Lily (Mila Kunis) comes to town and starts to shake things up a bit. Slowly, Nina loses control of reality as she tries to grasp the soul of the Black Swan, fighting between her own paranoid imagination and her sanity--is she really turning into a Black Swan or is the role just getting to her?

The best two words to describe this film are basically the same two words I've been hearing all over--visceral and sexy. There was a woman nearby who had brought her two small children with her--and at one point, she even left the theater (assuming to go to the bathroom), and she left the two little kids behind alone! First, you should never do that... ever. But second, if you ever were to do that, this is certainly not the film you do that in (this isn't even a film to bring them to in the first place). Half the time I was cringing from some disturbing moments, and the other half of the time I was watching Natalie Portman having sexy times. And that's about as close as I'm gonna get to talking about the famous lesbian scene.

So that lesbian scene was pretty hot.

Er, sorry.

Anyway, the scene where Natalie Portman is mastu...

Sorry, off track again. I need something to take my mind off all the sexy times.

OK, so how about the time when she rips the skin from her fingernail down to her knuckle. Oh yeah, baby. Sorry, I threw up in my mouth a little. Back on track.

Like I was saying, this movie is visceral. There are a lot of disturbing images in this movie, and I don't just mean all the fingernail stuff--and there are a lot of fingernail-related moments. The imagery of the film is unsettling, from the back rash to the mirrors. I want to take a moment to discuss the mirrors. This film is full of mirrors. Almost every scene has multiple mirrors. This movie must have been a nightmare in post-production. Still, the way they were utilized, either fragmenting reflections or having reflections moving slightly off from when the real person is moving, was magnificent. I want to see the movie again simply to watch the mirrors the entire time.

The acting is solid, as well. Natalie Portman is gorgeous as usual and, dare I say it, very sexy at times. But that's the point of the role, right? Seduction. Mila Kunis has been surprising me quite a bit lately, shedding her Jackie persona from That 70s Show. And this movie really helps her jettison to the next level. Vincent Cassel is fantastic and creepy, too. One actress I wasn't expecting (which is kinda how she's been a lot lately) is Winona Ryder as Beth, a former big name in ballet who is retiring. Her performance is gut-wrenching... in the sense that she reaches through the screen, grabs your intestines, and wrenches them from your body. It's a pretty intense role.

And that's another great way to describe this movie: intense. Don't come into it thinking you're in for a wonderful romp into the world of ballet. It's a heavy look into the psychosis of a young woman who has to make such a huge personality shift for a role that it literally destroys her from the inside out. It's a study of the mind and its slow decline from sanity, showing you every painstaking second of this woman whose life is swirling down the drain for the hope of perfection. And the music is good, too. (Understatement.)

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


  1. Childish and uninformative as expected. How would the mirrors be a nightmare in post. Do you even know anything about post-production?

  2. Well thank you, Anonymous. Yes, I do know a bit about post-production. The mirrors would be a nightmare because, unless they got perfect angles on every shot, they would have to digitally remove the cameraman and any crew from the reflection. And considering there were mirrors in almost every scene of the movie, that is a LOT of digital removal.

  3. Glad you liked it! I managed to see it in a preview screening (doesn't actually get released in Australia until late January) and I LOVED it. Visceral and sexy is exactly right.

    And you seriously need to check out Requiem for a Dream again ASAP. One of my all time favourites (although bloody depressing!!!)

  4. It's beautifully shot, and Portman gives the performance of a lifetime, and totally deserves the Oscar. Good review!


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