[Review] Black Swan

Black Swan (2010)

Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis

“The production needs a new swan queen… but which of you can embody both swans? The white and the black?”

Natalie Portman gives her best performance to date in an intriguing, dark film which captures a mind overwhelmed with its own ambition, desire for perfection and the expectation of others.

Nina Sayer (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York ballet company. The film opens with the news that the company will be performing Swan Lake and that its director (Cassel) is looking for a new prima ballerina. Nina is promoted to the role, much to the anger of the departing prima, Beth (Winona Ryder).

In the company’s production, Nina will have the dual role of both the beautiful white swan and her evil twin, the black swan – Nina perfectly embodies the white swan but lacks the sensuality and lustful personality of the black swan.

Nina strives to be the best – to fulfil both roles – but at what cost to both her physical and mental health…

I posted about Black Swan on 23rd August 2010 and I deliberately avoided reading reviews as I wanted to make my own mind up about the film without too many preconceptions. I knew the basic plot but it turned out to be more thrilling and less supernatural than I had thought it would be from the trailer.

Black Swan is not to everyone’s taste – at times I was both disturbed and intrigued and didn’t know whether to turn away or keep watching – but it is an intense, provactive and passionate film which reveals a character simultaneously at the height of her career and having a mental breakdown.

Superbly shot with beautiful costumes and an excellent supporting cast – Cassel, Kunis and Barbara Hershey (Nina’s mother) – Black Swan is ultimately Portman’s film. Portman slips into Aronofsky’s beautiful and scary nightmare of Black Swan wonderfully and left me doubting whether any other actress of her generation would be able to provide such a strong performance.

Black Swan‘s successes so far:

  • NOMINATED Five Oscars – WON Leading Actress
  • NOMINATED 12 BAFTAs – WON Leading Actress
  • NOMINATED Four Golden Globes – WON Best Actress
  • NOMINATED Three Screen Actors Guild awards – WON Best Actress
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