Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: Black Swan

It's been a week or two since I saw it, but I need to rave about this movie. Natalie Portman winning an Oscar for Best Actress makes is timely, no? And how divine did she look...

Nina is a young dancer with a prestigious ballet company who strives for perfection. She lives with her mother, a failed dancer, who shows signs of mentally instability early on. The company director, played by Vincent Cassell, seems to enjoy playing favourites with his dancers, his interest in them not entirely professional. When he begins casting for Swan Lake and his present favourite begins slipping from her throne, Nina seizes the chance to replace her and become the prima ballerina in the company. But can sweet, vulnerable Nina embrace her darker side in order to portray the black swan as well as she can the white swan? And if she does, will it destroy her along the way?

I saw one of director Darren Aronovsky's films a few years ago, Requiem for a Dream. Woah. Full on. I don't think I've seen a more affecting film. The closing scene, for those who haven't seen it, involves Jennifer Connolly (yes, dear little Sarah from Labyrinth) doing something entirely debasing (and I mean entirely...there are no words) for a little packet of heroin. And it was a weird film in a scary, psychologically twisted way. I didn't so much enjoy it as want to scrape it out of my brain. In a respecting way, but still. Scraping.

So you could say I was expecting something similar from Black Swan. I like being freaked out, though. Freaky-scary with ballet really appealed to me. So I had high expectations.

Black Swan was everything I'd hope it would be. Nina is literally being driven mad in her striving for perfection. It's impossible to tell whether Nina's paranoia is all in her head or whether her mother, the director, or Lily, the sultry dancer that could be replacing her, is contributing to her downward spiral. There's plenty of Requiem for a Dream thrillerness with lots of excellent scenes and beautiful dancing. I loved the way we didn't see Portman portraying the black swan right until the end. Those were my favourite scenes by far. They were so astounding, confronting. Portman radiated evil in those moments. It was pure brilliance.

Black Swan was released in Australia on January 20. I could have seen my favourite film of the year already and it's barely even begun.


  1. Thank god someone else agrees with me! I LOVED it, but everyone I've spoken to has either been indifferent or really didn't like it.

    I saw it weeks ago, but I still find myself thinking about it, wondering how much was real and how much was in her head. AWESOME!

    And yeah, Requiem for Dream is messed up. I saw it years ago, but it still disturbs me. *shudder* It's a good way to keep the kids of drugs, though.

  2. I can't wait to see it again when it comes out on DVD! It was just beautiful. I don't think there was one scene when I thought "meh", and I go "meh" pretty easily in films.

  3. I didn't know this was made my the same guy who did Requiem. I'm pretty sure that film scarred me for life, I try to never think about it but it just pops on into my consciousness every now and then and re-traumatises me. This makes me scared to see Black Swan, but then I guess it can't be quite as mind meltingly damaging as Requiem?

  4. Have you seen Perfect Blue? It's an anime film from the late 90s, but you can definitely see the influence that the movie might have had on Black Swan, but Perfect Blue has an extra layer of "?????" As I was watching Black Swan, that movie kept popping into my head. I have to rewatch it again. Plus, Aronofsky used one of the scenes from Perfect Blue in Requiem for a Dream, and Black Swan (the scenes in the bath tub). I highly recommend Perfect Blue. As for Black Swan, the scene where she was turning into the black swan was just so heightened and beautiful. That whole part, starting in the dressing room was just amazing. I loved Natalie's dress at the Oscar's, and she looked so lovely in it!

  5. I so agree. Black Swan was amazing. I was skeptical at first, because of all the ballet stuff, but it blew me off.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  6. Oh dear - I love ballet (and Tchaikovski's ballets have such fabulous music)but I have avoided Black Swan as I am worried it will be above my scariness threshold...but I am now somewhat tempted.