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Black Swan
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Reviews & Ratings for
Black Swan More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

"Nothing with none" as we use to said in Mostar, BiH.

2/10
Author: Pilje from Bosnia and Herzegovina
26 October 2011

I gave this mark just because of love to the arts, but i don't like a classic music so much. Simply, i don't have an ear for that kind of art. About a movie: why such a story. Well, it's not to to bad story, me personally, i used to see and i'd like to see spectacles, good Hollywood movies where producer(s) spent at least 200 millions. In that case you could see a lot of special effect, well done effect and knowledge of CGI animation and after production rendering and processing, and after all, well chosen actors. "Normal" movie, let's call him like that, will be the movie where producer spent let's say a 100 thousand. But acting is "low profile" so natural, so close to us, normal folks. I can clearly say, I haven't see normal movie for a while, where actors don't use film language, but normal,street, house, school, or just a simple conversation speech. Is there such a movie? I don't know why this movie is made at all? Acting is fine, scene too, story is fine, but after all, i felt some emptiness. Something was missing. This time,and in future especially, will be only movie like good action, drama,comedy and SF. All other type of movie will die, for sure. Maybe SF will die too, since in future, You couldn't even describe something more sophisticated than future is for itself. So this movie, for me is miss.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

multi-layered but with a trowel

3/10
Author: jules (ronansdad) from Cardiff Wales United Kingdom
20 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Almost everything about this film irritated me from the up close camera shots to give a sense of claustrophobia to the light spots in the actors eyes.

Maybe I got bored and found the whole film predictable and started noticing the obvious. It layers the trauma on top on further layers of 'meaning' to the point it bludgeons the viewer with the blinding obvious.

There was a point where I expected alien to pop out of her stomach -spoiler alert- and something close suddenly does, that is, out of her shoulder.

I did start laughing at one point.

It is watchable, and looks really good but...

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Pointless and bland

4/10
Author: Billie-Leah from Czech Republic
30 October 2011

Well, before I actually saw the movie I had been reading lots of positive references so I had considered it a movie worth watching. After I have seen it I was not merely disappointed but also rather depressed. The whole movie was something like a silent picture: You can watch it, though you can't quite understand what the creators want you to think of it.

In the matter of fact, it is exactly the kind of movie that seems to be a perfect artistic movie - it contains epic themes like ballet and schizophrenia, depressive and negative view on life and world and a charming bad-ass with deviations. Sadly I found it so artistic that it was more likely boring and bland and the main so-called bad-ass was awfully irritating me the whole movie because of the actor and his insufficient ability to represent the character on higher level than a high school play.

However, what disappointed me the most was probably the end of the movie. I won't write any spoilers here but just for you to know - a good movie shouldn't end up like this, that end indicates that the director didn't know what to do with the main character and therefore he chose the easiest way to end it. And it also made the whole movie pointless and useless to watch.

It's just my opinion but I consider a great movie a movie, which I'm capable of watching more than once and I still enjoy it. And I certainly wouldn't watch THAT movie more than once.

These 4 stars belong to Natalie Portman only, for her performance is just brilliant.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Over-dramatic and cliché

5/10
Author: aysx87 from United States
28 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The cliché aspect of this: this is so diatomic--the first half is the director yelling at the dancer to go from "virginal white" to unleash the "passionate black swan" which is... really not what I thought Swan Lake is about, but just seems to be made up and stretched to add a dramatic plot. The script is totally lacking--the mother has the worst, most cliché lines--"I gave up my life for you! Sweet girl!" and the director continues to pound the black-vs-white metaphor. Sexual harassment for advancement and the vengeful aging star also put in appearances here.

It also seems pushing credibility: Portman seems to have an agonized, needy, nervous expression on her face during the entire film, complete with ragged uneven breathing, which is OK in a person-loses-her-mind film but ballet is famous for valuing athleticism & lightness of expression and no one so obviously nervous and unhinged would be let a lead role. For example, in the rehearsal scene where you can see everyone casually and elegantly doing a straightforward degage/fondu combination, Portman looks so nervous the audience expects she's going to bolt or break down at any second, straining credulity that this would go unnoticed by anyone else or that she would be picked for the lead. In many dance scenes [27:20], she performs with a furrow in her brow--is she psychologically tortured or is she confused and trying to remember how to do the combination? In one scene, there's a head shot of her looking nervous and not spotting, paired with a full body shot of her (presumably body double) confidently doing perfect passe turns, which is pretty physically impossible.

The sensuality and club scenes were sexy and made a darker transformation, but again, it's hard to believe that ~suddenly everything is OK. I thought the sex added to the plot as much as the groping and come-ons did--people seem to be extra defensive for some reason. I liked the feathers growing out of skin as a kind of horrifying, shocking moment. I love the way Lily and Nina work together; Nina was not very sympathetic, but Lily was just so full of life and a bit sarcastic; I thought their relationship was great. I did think it was tasteless that Lily had a tattoo of black wings. 1) Can you be any more obvious 2) It seems pretty dumb and career-ending for a ballerina to get a tattoo there. But anyhow.

The way scratches kept coming up were really chilling and it became a bit of a horror movie at the end that did shock me.

Finally, it passed over ballet as a dance form and made it into a cliché: overworked dancer trying to strive for emotion and compete with other catty dancers. There's shockingly few dance scenes here--I'd say 50-75% of them are closeups of Portman's face and a camera wheeling around her shoulders and upper body, which is not dancing. Ballet has gorgeous lines and this movie doesn't really show any of it, which would be disappointing for dancers. It also doesn't accurately portray Swan Lake. More of a dramatic horror movie showing one deranged woman, rather than anything to do with the artistic endeavors of ballet.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Torture

5/10
Author: skysaxon from Vancouver, BC
19 March 2011

I suppose it is Aranofsky's artistic temperament, but this movie is torture to watch. The first half hour goes beyond torture. Portman gives a one-note performance that is difficult to watch. A little variety in tone might have made her character a bit more sympathetic. We're supposed to feel for her. Aranofsky's ineptitude ensures we don't. She is a blank slate, filmed upon a black canvas.

The look of the film is that of a rainy day. There is no colour here. Filmed through a bowl of pea soup, the life is drained out of every scene, leaving one robbed of emotional involvement. There is little beauty or elegance. Vincent Cassel, so wonderful in the Mesrine movies, works overtime to pronounce each word, lending to the overreaching artiness of this still life.

I suppose the ugliness of the film, the performances, the cinematography are all intended to alienate and cause discomfort in the audience. People love this movie. I guess some of us have a streak of masochism in us. Some of us don't.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Losing Yourself In The Darkness Of The Part

9/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
9 July 2011

First off let no one think that if they see Black Swan from 2010 that earned Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar that they are looking at a remake of the Tyrone Power swashbuckling classic. Instead this film which has a setting in a ballet company is an interesting combination of plot themes from A Double Life and All About Eve.

Company choreographer Victor Cassel chooses promising newcomer Natalie Portman to be the lead in his new production of Swan Lake to succeed his long time star Winona Ryder who is not taking her forced retirement easy. Portman has been Ryder's Eve Harrington, but Portman also has an Eve in her life as well, the younger and talented Mila Kunis. A lot of fine roles for women in this film.

Portman is no doubt talented, but she's dealing with a lot of issues of paranoia, a lot of it instilled by her mother Barbara Hershey. She starts losing herself in the dark complexities of the Black Swan as surely as Ronald Colman did with Othello in A Double Life. How it all works out for all the women you have to see Black Swan.

And you'll like what you see. It's hard to miss the elements in those classics that I've cited in Black Swan. But if you're going to borrow, borrow from the best. And since an Oscar came Ronald Colman's way and one of her 10 nominations came Bette Davis's way, Natalie Portman sure had a substantial role that she played beautifully.

The real surprise for most viewers I think will be Mila Kunis who played the vapid Jackie on That Seventies Show. Kunis provided one of the great lines from television in that show when she stated that no one would deter her from her career goal to be Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. She should have gotten some Oscar recognition herself for the Eve Harrington type role she plays here.

Black Swan is the best film about ballet since the Anne Bancroft/Shirley MacLane classic The Turning Point from the Seventies. Try to see this one by all means.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, tragic, haunting and nightmarish

9/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
13 April 2011

I personally do not think this movie the best movie of 2010, I did prefer The King's Speech and The Social Network. But overall, Black Swan is a very, very good film.

Albeit one with cracks. While the film succeeds as a character study, with a compelling lead character, there are some occasional logic and originality lapses, not in the script though as the script is very original that still holds the level of intensity in the slower parts, and with exception of Nina and perhaps Lily some of the characters could have done with more depth.

Those flaws aside, I loved it. But I can understand why people mayn't like it, I especially have a good friend who found it ham-fisted and found it left a bad taste in her mouth, it is often very adult and graphic with some sexual content. Anyone expecting Swan Lake are better off finding a video production or buying a ticket to somewhere like the Royal Ballet, this is not Swan Lake but a melodramatic and psychological character study revolving around a ballerina and the production of that particular ballet.

I remember reading that Darcy Bussell(who I respect) criticised the movie for an inaccurate portrayal of ballerinas or somewhat. I am not saying she is wrong, but I think it depends on the ballerina.

Even with any problems the film has, it is beautiful, tragic, haunting and nightmarish not to mention somewhat thought-provoking. The camera work with its contrasting black and whites to create contrasting moods is great, complete with stunning costumes, scenery and sets. The choreography is good and you do feel the sweat that the performers exude when performing, but I would have liked more close-ups of it perhaps.

The music is haunting and melancholic and the snippets of the Tchaikovsky ballet that you hear throughout are a delight to hear, but again it could have been more, and the finale is dark and exhilarating. The acting is mostly very good. Vincent Cassel is appropriately slimy, Barbara Hershey is terrific as the controlling mother and Mila Kunis is surprisingly wonderful in her meatiest role yet. But what made Black Swan are Darren Aranofsky's bravura direction and the mesmerising titular performance of Natalie Portman.

In conclusion, a very good film. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

6/10
Author: fung0 from Canada
15 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Black Swan is brilliantly directed and impeccably acted. But beyond that, I'm not sure how impressed we should be. It uses masterful technique to sell shallow and possibly fallacious insights.

On a dramatic level, the film shows us a feeble, repressed, self-destructive person, who - despite being offered an unimaginable opportunity - spends most of the running time whining, panicking, or blubbering. This may be a valid basis for a story (albeit a dreary one), but it offers very little in the way of novelty or nuance. There are no detours in Nina's character arc. You can fill in the ending of the film after watching the first five minutes.

Black Swan also misrepresents the creative process. The 'obsessive, self-destructive ballerina' is a tired cliché, which didn't ring true in The Red Shoes, and doesn't hold up any better here. Ballet, like any art, is NOT produced by mystically 'losing yourself.' It's created through long hours of intense, tightly-focused and highly-skilled effort. In other words: boring WORK. 'Talent' is 90% perspiration; obsession and psychosis are entirely optional. (And not particularly common.)

Aronofsky does a beautiful job of presenting Nina's inner journey in visual, symbolic terms. But that journey is neither pleasant nor particularly instructive. Nina's failing is ultimately no more than a lack of commitment.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Something reminiscent to The Emperor's New Clothes

5/10
Author: Atte_Peltonen from Finland
9 June 2014

Natalie Portman performs skilfully and with dedication her part as the lead. The illogical script and gimmicky directing what comes to the centering untrue psychiatric downfall does not do any favors against demotivating and estranging well-versed viewer and as such only serves as an fantasy of the writer and director, diminishing the room to empathize. Aspires for artistic finesse evident with the style, but lacking the creativity, subtlety and thought provoking sensitivity ends up being a touch artsy. This all adds up for the film to fall far short from greatness. Acting and overall crafty cinematographic style helps to rise this above average filmmaking.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Technically Perfect

9/10
Author: rasmushelms from Denmark
27 May 2014

"Black Swan" is an excellent example of a film that succeeds both in being commercial and artistic. The film's subject matter of a woman's fears causing her to descend into a state of paranoia, as well as Darren Aronofsky's direction are both clearly influenced by Roman Polanski's 1960's psychological thrillers "Repulsion" and "Rosemary's Baby." However, while "Black Swan" is also primarily a character study of a female protagonist's deteriorating mental state, the faster pace and more melodramatic dialogue makes "Black Swan" a more commercial film. That isn't to say that "Black Swan" is a lesser film, because I think it just about as good as Polanski's classics, and possibly deals with more relevant themes. It's simply that the style will probably not shock the audience as much as Polanski's.

Having said that, I consider "Black Swan" a perfect film. The story follows Nina, a young ballerina (Natalie Portman), who gets her dream role of the Swan Queen only to find herself becoming paranoid of losing the role to her double (Mila Kunis), as she is pushed to the extremes by her director (Vincent Cassel) to "let go" of her obsession with technical perfection in order to become the darker side of her role: namely, The Black Swan. The way Nina begins to embody her role of The Black Swan, while being paranoid of losing her dream part, is what constitutes the "horror" of the film. It also builds up to an operatic climax that wraps up the film beautifully. Aronofsky's direction brilliantly captures Nina's paranoia, making for a hallucinatory viewing experience, and the musical choices elegantly complement the great camera-work and choreography. It's a beautiful and thrilling film, although I did not find it particularly scary.

The performances here are excellent. Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey (as Nina's overprotective mother) all put in convincing displays in their supporting roles. Nevertheless, the true star of the show is undoubtedly Natalie Portman. Doing the majority of her dancing scenes without a double, Portman delivers a virtuoso performance that demonstrates the full spectrum of her acting ability from the subtle, nervous glances she gives to the tears of heartbreak and torment.

Artful, thrilling, and powerful, "Black Swan" is a technically perfect film. Ironically, however, "Black Swan" might just suffer from the same problem as its main character, in cementing itself as a classic: it is so perfect that it fails to deliver the final punch by letting everything go.

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