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Black Swan (2010)

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A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.

Director:

Darren Aronofsky

Writers:

Mark Heyman (screenplay), Andres Heinz (screenplay) (as Andrés Heinz) | 2 more credits »
Popularity
616 ( 47)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 91 wins & 258 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Portman ... Nina Sayers / The Swan Queen
Mila Kunis ... Lily / The Black Swan
Vincent Cassel ... Thomas Leroy / The Gentleman
Barbara Hershey ... Erica Sayers / The Queen
Winona Ryder ... Beth Macintyre / The Dying Swan
Benjamin Millepied ... David / The Prince
Ksenia Solo ... Veronica / Little Swan
Kristina Anapau ... Galina / Little Swan
Janet Montgomery ... Madeline / Little Swan
Sebastian Stan ... Andrew / Suitor
Toby Hemingway ... Tom / Suitor
Sergio Torrado Sergio Torrado ... Sergio / Rothbart
Mark Margolis ... Mr. Fithian / Patron
Tina Sloan ... Mrs. Fithian / Patron
Abraham Aronofsky ... Mr. Stein / Patron (as Abe Aronofsky)
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Storyline

Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. 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 fits 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 friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Italian

Release Date:

17 December 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El cisne negro See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,443,809, 5 December 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$106,954,678

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$329,398,046
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | DTS | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Portman's character's name 'Nina' is also the name of the ballerina in an Abba song 'Nina, pretty ballerina' which coincidentally, outlines the tale of a girl who seems ordinary but has a secret. See more »

Goofs

In the opening, where Nina is referring to the Bolshoi choreography: Originally the overture is played with curtains closed; to show Rothbart cursing Odette is a late, American invention from ca 2000. Some ballet companies have picked this up but not the great Russian companies, Bolshoi or Marinsky who stay true to the original. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Nina Sayers: I had the craziest dream last night. I was dancing the White Swan.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #19.59 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Electric Hands
Written by Tom Rowlands
Performed by The Chemical Brothers
The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited
Contains "Swan Lake" written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Engaging psychological horror despite not being as "high-brow" as the ballet frame suggests
31 January 2011 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Esteemed IMDb writer Theo Robertson messaged me the other day about this film and, while I skimmed it for fear of having him influence me in terms of his opinion, I did read that several older people had walked out of this film, seemingly having expected some sort of high-brow film with its roots in ballet. One can understand why because with all the award buzz and the superficial subject matter (ballet) combined with the actress and of course the previous work of the director, this must surely be an intelligent piece to be "appreciated" and "considered". What one wouldn't expect would be a film that, with a bit more gore, could easily be just another trashy horror/thriller that is released on video and has plenty of sex, violence and jump scares to it.

Well, got news for you, this is what Black Swan is – albeit a superior example of the genre. Essentially our lead character struggles to get in touch with her dark side when she wins the lead in Swan Lake, gradually losing touch with reality and/or being hunted by those around her who wish her harm. This manifests itself through some painful scenes of self-harm, imagined doppelgangers, intense sexual discovery, shadowy figures and a domineering mother who keeps her controlling menace under a veil of vulnerability that only falls here or there. It is trashy stuff in a way but it is done very well so that it produces this genre material but does so in a way that feels slightly classy while also engaging more than it would thanks to a brilliant turn by Portman.

And she is brilliant. I understand the mother because of how well Portman plays – this is not a character she has worked on for a few months, this feels like a product of years under the influence of this mother. She is nervous to her core, frustrated by her own inability to be this "thing" that she has spent her life not being – wild, loose, imperfect. Portman nails it and while I don't think it is a brilliant film, her performance is little less than brilliant. In support Hersey is equally as good with less time to do it. The flickers across her face say so much and I was impressed that with so little I was able to understand roughly what had happened in the previous 20 years. Cassel is simplistic but effective in his predatory director turn. Kunis is unbelievably sexual and again she helps the lead role by showing us everything that Nina struggles to find in herself. Ryder is solid in a smaller role. Aronofsky's direction is strong but particularly impressive is the cinematography – the camera flows so well around the scenes (and yet appears in no mirrors). I think he knows he is making a horror movie so, although he embraces the ballet, he doesn't avoid the shock or the build of the horror.

Some have embraced this film as art and a thing of beauty – while others have come away disappointed because that is what they expected it to be but didn't find it. However Black Swan is an effective psychological horror movie that just happens to be set in the world of ballet. As such it is very much a genre movie even if the director etc lift it to feel like more. In particular Portman makes the film – I cannot think I have seen her better and her Oscar (can there be doubt?) will be deserved.


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