Review by: Matthew Kerwin
Rating: B +
Independent film maker Darren Aronofsky adds another notch under his belt of high tension character studies. He showed us the harsh realities of drug use in Requiem for a Dream and the sad and desolate world of a wrestler, in The Wrestler. With Black Swan, Aronofsky shows us the cut throat world of competitive ballet. Going into this film i wasn’t sure what light the ballet would be perceived in, but boy was i mesmerized.
A young girl in her early twenties is in her room standing in front of a mirror looking at her small, petite, malnourished body. She has tears in her eyes, bruises cover most of her back and legs. She just got home from ballet practice and is still not satisfied with her practice session a half an hour prior. She starts to stand on the tips of her feet, they begin to crack and she winces in pain. She falls back down on her feet and reaches for her foot. As she slowly begins to take the ballet shoe off, her bandage reveals a small patch of blood. She continues to unwind the bandage from her foot and examines her toes. They are very disfigured, swollen and bleeding. She nonchalantly picks at her big toe and starts to peel away the nail. After disposing her nail she gets a fresh bandage, wraps up her foot, slips her shoe back on, wipes the remaining tears from her face and continues to practice.
Perfection is an understatement for this young ballet dancer named Nina, wonderfully portrayed by Natalie Portman, who will most certainly be nominated for an Oscar, for an extremely chilling performance about a ballet dancer who is driven to the edge when her professional drive overwhelms anything else in her life. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica, (played by Barbara Hershey), who treats Nina like she is a five year old child and is also very jealous of Nina’s accomplishments as a dancer.When artistic director Thomas Leroy , (played by Vincent Cassel), decides to replace the aging ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new, much more stripped down version of Swan Lake, Nina is at the top of his list. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (played by Mila Kunis), who in comparison is much more raw and carefree opposed to Nina, who is tame, shy and vulnerable. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina exemplifies the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted and sensual friendship, Nina begins to channel her dark side, a sign that could lead to self destruction.
Clint Mansell adds a beautiful score that compliments the movie nicely, frame by frame. Mansell reinvented and used much of the original score from Swan Lake, composed by the legendary Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Black Swan is a must see film this year, check it out!