Sunday, December 19, 2010


Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Natalie Portman - Nina Sayers/ The Swan Queen
Mila Kunis - Lily/ The Black Swan
Vincent Cassel - Thomas Leroy/ The Gentleman

     Nina  is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company is completely consumed with dance. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace the lead ballerina for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily, who impresses Leroy as well. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

     This is another movie I was waiting to see this year, and was actually afraid I wasn't going to to be able to. Thankfully Fox decided to push it out rather quickly before the end of the year (thank you Golden Globes for the push!!)  Needless to say, plans were made the day I found out it was going to be released wide. Before going into the movie I knew that it wasn't going to be fun, hell, when is a Aronofsky film fun! I will say that Aronosfsky films are amazing to watch no matter what even when it's painful to watch. The man is a master of the psychological breakdown of characters. I should mention that the movie at the very beginning basically tells you how this is going to end. I won't say how, so you have to watch it yourselves. Just expect to see something raw and unrelenting and you should be set.

     I'll go ahead and say that Natalie Portman just wiped all those years of bad acting in Star Wars movies out with this movie. This brings back memories of how good of a actress she truly is. She's just amazing to watch in this movie as you get to watch her just break apart and become unhinged. From a tightly self controlled, frightened of rejection girl to when her personality cracks completely at the end as everything that has  happened  comes crushing down on her it was amazing to watch. I'll go ahead and say that this is probably the best I've ever seen her act in any movie that I've seen her in. Vincent Cassel also does an amazing job playing Thomas Leroy, the director of the ballet, who pushes Portman's Nina to let go and not be in control as much, to get the best performances he can from the dancers. Cassel could have just played this role as a one note type character, but instead he adds a layer to it that gives it a darker side. Now some of the tricks he tries with Nina can be considered awful, but he is trying to push her to be the dancer he knows Nina can be. As for Mila Kunis, I haven't seen very many things she's done, but before watching the movie I kept on going back to her character Jackie from That 70's Show. I must say I never will again see her that way. Kunis plays the free spirited Lily, who is for all purposes the complete opposite of Portman's Nina, and who you can never tell what is going on with her character throughout the film, but yet every time she's on screen she draws attention and sometimes even outshines Portman. Everyone does an exceptional job in this film all the way around.

     I must mention that while Black Swan is a movie about ballerinas, it's also an interpretation of Swan Lake. While Nina can be seen as the White Swan, Lily can be seen as the Black Swan constantly playfully messing with Nina, but never out of harm. But the true Black Swan is also Nina who personifies her darker side as Lily. As Nina's psych begins to crack under the pressure and constraints she put upon herself , her world begins to change into something darker. Now here's where the movie gets interesting. Nina was never the stable one to begin with. This is shown early in the movie as she sneaks into the dressing room of Winona Ryder's just released from being the star Beth's dressing room after she is told the news. Even though it seems innocent enough that Nina takes her lipstick, we find out later on that she's been stealing from Beth for a while, trying to be as she puts it, "perfect" like Beth and she sees these objects as a way to help her do that. Watching Ryder's reaction to this as Nina comes clean to her is amazing. That's just one example of how disturbed Nina is. Another is her seeing out of the corner of her eye reflections in mirrors of her moving when she isn't and black shadows moving around when there are none. You're pulled into Nina's world, from her delicate relationship with her overbearing, possessive, controlling mother, who isn't all there either (she paints portraits of her own daughter, and you can tell she's been doing it for a while) and is trying to live her lost life through her own daughter, to when you know Nina's  gone, well no other really good way to put this, batshit crazy when she sees all the paintings of herself start talking to her, which I must say I had a smile on my face as this was happening. But the true fracture in Nina's world happens during the opening night performance of  Swan Lake which is hard to watch but you don't want to look away. To go into detail about this part of the movie would just ruin the shock and surprises that are there on the screen as this is where everything comes together that has happened. 

     Aronofsky has again created a world which is hard to watch but yet at the same time is so beautiful to see. The film itself has a grain over it which makes it look dark to begin with, but with the story as it plays out, it gets so much darker. The over the shoulder shots helped make you feel as if you were in the film as did the club scene where Nina truly began to let go and find her darker side and become the true Black Swan. While there are scenes of violence in the movie, it's much harder to watch due to the fact that it's against ones self than to another person. And to make it worse you can't tell if it's real or imagined in Nina's mind as she slowly loses her grip on reality. I mentioned this mostly due to the ending of the movie when Nina truly turns into the Black Swan, both figuratively, and literally. I must say I was amazed during the last part of the movie as reality becomes warped. From Nina's neck lengthening (I was giddy after watching that part) to her on screen transformation into the Black Swan. I will say that some people are going to hate this movie, and for them, I feel sorry for, as it's a slow burn type of film where everything is set for a reason and nothing is wasted. I don't want to give to much away about the movie as I want to mention so many scenes that stuck out so much, but to do that I feel as if it would ruin and cheapen the movie for people that haven't seen it yet, as there are plenty of scenes in there, so I'll just say that I can easily say that this is one of my favorite movies this year, if not the best movie I've seen this year so far.

     Easily the Black Swan in the dressing room. I'm not going to say how or try to explain it, but after the watching the movie I hope you'll understand why.

     I was perfect......

     Natalie Portman lost over 20 pounds to look more like a real ballerina as did Mila Kunis for her role as well.

     Aronofsky and Portman first discussed the film in 2000, though the script was yet to be written.

    Portman is actually undergoing a real physical therapy session in one scene with the actual physical therapist due to the fact that she actually twisted a rib during filming of the movie.

      Vincent Cassel compared his character to George Balanchine, who co-founded the New York City Ballet. The actor said Balanchine was "a control freak, a true artist using sexuality to direct his dancers". 

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