A lot of good hype is surrounding “Black Swan.” After watching the movie, I get it. I was frozen to my seat for awhile, trying to come to terms with what I just watched. “Black Swan” is a masterfully directed and enthrallingly haunting psychological thriller.
The film is about Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a professional ballerina who desperately wants to play the Swan Queen in Thomas Leroy’s (Vincent Cassel) new production of Swan Lake at New York City’s Lincoln Center. Leroy, who is casting away the former Swan Queen (Winona Ryder), ultimately chooses Nina for the part. However, he is concerned that Nina can’t play both roles of the Swan Queen, the White Swan and Black Swan. While her technique is perfect, she lacks a kind of dark passion needed to perform the Black Swan. Nina is obsessed with perfection, and as she practices and prepares to take the stage, her world (and mind) starts to turn against her.
I found Nina’s relationship with her mother unsettling. Nina is an adult in her 20s and acts like a little girl around her mother, calling her “mommy” and has bedroom full of pink hearts and stuffed animals. Besides the fact that her mother is the typical stage mom, she doesn’t help by treating Nina like a little girl. As Nina starts to prepare for the stage, her relationship with Thomas evolves. He tries to corrupt Nina, thinking it will help her lose her frigid manner and play the Black Swan to perfection. All the while, a new girl, Lily (Mila Kunis), joins the company. Nina becomes obsessed with Lily, not knowing whether or not to trust her. The movie, like the Black Swan, is very seductive. It’s fraught with sexual tension. Nina’s sexual repression carries across the movie.
Aronofsky has created a visceral and haunting depiction of the ballet world. He focuses on shots of the dancers’ feet, showing the stress and damage ballet has caused. He balances the tones between the light and dark expertly. His filmmaking is very stylish and mature; it draws you into Nina’s world effortlessly. And when you think you’re safe, something pops out of nowhere. In a way, it was like I was experiencing Nina’s hallucinations and fears right with her. It’s practically unsettling. The fact that the movie unsettled me so much proves how sophisticated Aronofsky is as a filmmaker.
Natalie Portman is astounding. Her portrayal of Nina is flawless. It would be a total injustice if she doesn’t win an Oscar for Best Actress. Because I have not seen one woman who comes close to being as good as Natalie Portman is in this film. Vincent Cassel plays Thomas with arrogance and seduction, which I think is one thing a French actor can always do. Mila Kunis finally has a role that is worthy of her acting caliber! She plays the confident Lily with sass and energy. And although Winona Ryder isn’t in the movie for many scenes, her portrayal of the discarded Swan Queen is some of her best work yet.
If you love psychological thrillers, this is one of the best! I absolutely recommend seeing this film. (Don’t be like me and see it early in the day without eating anything. I think the tiredness and hunger made it mess with my mind more. lol) After the movie and I recovered, I instantly felt the movie was overhyped. But thinking about it now (a day later), it isn’t overhyped, and it’s definitely one of the best films of the year.
“Black Swan” is now playing in limited release. Check out when it will play in your area here!