Black Swan (2010)

I just want to be perfect.

— Nina Sayers

The genesis of the #119 Movie of All Time on IMDB, Black Swan stemmed from a jettisoned storyline from Darren Aronofsky’s last movie, The Wrestler. It was intended to be a story about an over the hill wrestler and fading ballerina. Aronofsky wanted to explore the psyche of a ballerina further in this movie.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a featured dancer in the American Ballet Company in New York City. Her overprotective mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey) gave up her dreams of being a prima ballerina to have Nina. She wants Nina to succeed in ways that she could not.

Headmaster Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is auditioning potential dancers for his stripped down version of the classic ballet, “Swan Lake” to open up the season. The original Swan Queen, Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) is forced into an early retirement, because she is not drawing the crowds like she used to. She is embittered by this drastic action.

Seeing her chance to be the principal dancer, Nina tries out for the Swan Queen and almost loses the part due to her frigid, perfectionist style of dancing. Thomas seeing the potential in Nina when he forces himself upon her and gives her the part.

Nina’s ambition for being the best Swan Queen that ever was is consuming her when she thinks a rival dancer from San Francisco, Lily (Mila Kunis) is trying to steal her part and her life. Her paranoia over Lily, the pressures of her mother, the criticism of Thomas and the part almost consumes her as she thinks that old habits of scratching are rearing their ugly head again.

Aronofsky has a way of setting the mood of the film with a device that he did in his last film with having the camera being behind the main actor. Like the audience is falling her, going on her journey to madness. I don’t know if the notice that the color palette was mostly black and white to represent the light and the dark, good and evil, etc. I would not think that a movie about a ballerina would be Aronofsky’s plate, but I would impressed by the result.

I did find some faults with the film. It mainly deals with the supporting actresses in this film, Hershey, Ryder and Kunis. I know that Hershey wanted to be the overbearing, neurotic mother, but the scene in the kitchen with the cake. Yeah. I don’t believe for a second that Ryder would be on point in her life. Her only emotions were inebriation or anger. Nothing in between. The problem that I had with Kunis was that I didn’t believe that her character would be a rival for Natalie’s character at all. I also had an issue with the camerawork in the up-close dance sequences. It felt so jerky and weird that I could not get into the dance on an emotional level.

Judgment: It is a graceful retelling of obsession, jealousy and destruction.

Rating: ****1/2

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on December 20, 2010, in 2010, Drama, Independent, Psychological, Running Feature, Suspense, Thriller, Top 250 of All Time on IMDB and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Aronofsky can take anything and make it worth watching. I’ll watch an Aronofsky film starring Louie Anderson.

  2. This is, no doubt about it, a tour de force, a work that fully lives up to its director’s ambitions.

  3. I personally enjoyed The Wrestler more than Black Swan.

  1. Pingback: Director's Chair: Darren Aronofsky | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

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