Dir: Darren Aronofsky, 2010
Stunning and intense psychological thriller to keep you on your toes.
Innocent, hard-working Nina (Natalie Portman) finally gets the coveted lead role in her ballet company's production of Swan Lake. But an over-attentive stage mother, a sexy new rival and her own insecurities make her fragile in the face of potential success. Can she pull it together and deliver both the light and dark sides of her role, or will she crack under all the pressure? And is charismatic Lily (Mila Kunis) trying to dethrone Nina as the newly appointed Swan Queen?
Natalie Portman is extraordinary, flawless. She perfectly embodies a range of characteristics, sometimes in intricate combinations. Her innocence makes her both unnerving and easy to root for. The way her lack of assertiveness and anxiety stifle her, hold her back, is palpable in every scene. You feel her frustration, how hard she tries, her desire to be perfect. For this reason, the movie transcends the grueling world of ballet and is relatable to any endeavor where the harder someone tries, the further they seem from where they want to be.
Visually, Black Swan is beautiful, graceful and sometimes jarring. I loved that, for the most part, the terrifying moments are brief — a flash, a shadow, a look — and there are only a few full-fledged scary scenes. This upped the intensity for me, as I found myself paying extra close attention (lest I miss something telling).
Here's the deal: I enjoyed Black Swan, but, as Lily says about the ballet itself at one point: "It's not for everyone."
And now, for something a little different. Things Black Swan made me want/not want to do:
Made me want to
- Eat grapefruit
- Get in shape
- Go to a rave
- Do my hair in a bun
- Wear a tutu (out in public, like my friend does sometimes)
- Wear intense eye makeup
- Take a dance class
- Be more polished (and dainty...but not too dainty, or polished)
- See other movies by Darren Aronofsky (except The Fountain, good lord!)
Made me not want to
- Hang out with ballet dancers
- Go to the ballet
- Be in deserted performance halls after the lights go out
- Pull at hangnails ever again