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Move Review: Black Swan (December, 2010)

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Screenplay: Mark Heyman, skincare Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin
Release Date: December 3, 2010
Actors: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel

There have been a lot of buzz about this particular movie, directed by the ever talented (but slightly twisted) Darren Aronofsky, due to Natalie Portmand’s portrayal of ballet dancer Nina Sayer. Typically known for wholesome roles and the unfortunate Queen Amydala of the first three Star Wars movies, Portman has taken a leap here and really gone out of her comfort zone and steal the movie from everyone.

I’ve heard the movie described as “soft core” porn, or a “lesbian movie”, from the promos that others have seen, which, to me, is an indication of failed marketing. Sure, there is a lesbian type scene, but the movie would be best described as “ballet horror”. Black Swan shows the hard work that ballet dancers have to go through, and is at its core, a psychological thriller into the mind of a young girl who has been mentally (and possibly?) physically abused.

Nina Sayer has been practicing for years to be the perfect ballerina. A new show season is about to begin, and the new opening show is to be “Swan Lake”, directed by Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), who is about to put a twist on the ballet by choosing a ballerina to be the Swan Queen that has to display both the black and white swan. Nina wants the part badly, but has difficulty finding herself and letting go outside of the technical perfection that is required of the Black Swan. In the meantime, she is intrigued and drawn to the new ballet dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), who embodies the character needed of the Black Swan, and is essentially the opposite of Nina. At home, her mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) is absolutely controlling, calling at every moment and not allowing Nina to have a life outside of ballet, due to her wish that Nina have the career that she herself has lost. Erica babies her at every moment, essentially keeping Nina like a child, without a personality, and not really allowing Nina to do anything for herself. As Nina tries to discover her inner Black Swan, things start to spiral out of control.

Portman does an amazing job here and basically steals the show from almost everyone but Mila Kunis, who just simply lights up the screen with her presence (essentially, her role, and she does it very well.) The apparent opposites is very clear, with Portman being shy, in control, and Kunis, being free and passionate. The lights and the darks are very evident throughout the film – analogous to Nina’s desire to find her ability to let go, to be less in control in order to capture the essence and seduction of the Black Swan.

Aronofsky has managed to make the film to be extremely uncomfortable and disturbing (as one would expect from the director that brought us Requiem for a Dream) as there were plenty of scenes that made me cringe and even cover my eyes in disgust. It’s not a film for everyone, but it deserves to be seen. The film has been nominated for plenty of critic’s best picture nominations, and it deserves everyone of them. I, however, shall never look at ballet quite the same again.

Highly Recommended! 5 Quills / 5 Quills

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