Film: Black Swan
Cast inclueds: Natalie Portman (The Professional), Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s Thirteen), Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Barbara Hershey (Hannah and Her Sisters), Winona Ryder (Girl Interrupted)
Director: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler)
Genre: Drama/Suspense Thriller 2010
In brief: Dancing the swan queen has been Nina’s life-long dream. It’s the start of a new season, and Thomas, the artistic director of Nina’s Lincoln Center ballet company, has promised to feature her more this year. “It’s about time,” her mother comments. “When you start getting older, there’s this ridiculous pressure… (about getting older)” Nina does work very hard. Just listening to Nina's bones cracking when she stretches her feet is painful. Thomas announces that the new season will start with Swan Lake… “the story of a virgin girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan.” But this Swan Lake will be new and exciting. The ballet calls for two swan queens… the good swan, the white one… and the evil swan, the black one. Thomas wants one dancer who can embody the character of both… and it’s not going to be Beth, the company’s former superstar.
Nina wants this role so badly, she’s willing to do just about anything to get it. Thomas tells her that he has no doubt she can play the white swan, but he doesn’t think she has the passion to play the black swan. “Perfection isn’t everything. It’s about letting go… seducing us.” Lily, the new dancer, certainly has passion, and Thomas has noticed. “She’s not faking it.” When the assignments are posted, Nina surprisingly is named to play the swan queen. But winning the role and keeping it are two different things. Look at how callously Beth was thrown overboard. And there’s Lily… she too will do anything for a chance to play the lead. What does Thomas really demand of his featured dancers? Why isn’t Nina’s mother more supportive? And what’s going on with those nasty scratches on Nina’s back?
This is not really a movie about ballet. It’s a psychological thriller with a ballet motif. This is a David Aronofsky film… what he did for the art/sport of wrestling in The Wrestler, he has done for ballet in Black Swan. You will definitely cringe in pain watching Nina crack her bones and bite her bloodied cuticles. You’ll also feel her mental anguish, as she struggles to navigate the cut-throat treachery. Natalie Portman is exquisite as the tortured ballerina. But the question is… how real is this treachery? At times, it’s obvious that Nina’s obsessions are overtaking her. At other times, we not so sure what’s real and what isn’t. Just as the swan queen is desperately trying to escape the evil black swan, Nina struggles to escape her dark forces.
2 popped kernels
The many wonderful parts that don’t come together into a totally satisfying whole
Primary Audience: Young adults
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: High-end production
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment