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A beautiful and nightmarish masterpiece
DonFishies19 September 2010
There are not enough words in the English language to describe the praise Darren Aronofsky deserves for Black Swan. It was one of the most talked about and sought after films at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (which I managed to snag a ticket for), and for good reason – it is a masterpiece that is just as much beautiful as it is nightmarish.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) has toiled for years within a New York ballet company, always pushing herself. The company has fallen under hard times, and director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) makes the swift decision to put on a new rendition of the classic Swan Lake. With the company's go-to lead pushed into retirement, Nina is quickly selected to be the lead in the new ballet. With competition arriving in the form of new dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), and the demanding desire for perfection from both Thomas and her overbearing mother Erica (Barbara Hershey), Nina begins a journey into dark uncharted territory.

Black Swan is an enthralling and visceral experience from beginning to end. Aronofsky has used what he has learned from making the raw and unflinching The Wrestler and the cerebral horror and incredibly disturbing Requiem for a Dream, and has crafted a film that you will simply not be able to take your eyes off of. He builds up rather slow, but right after that first moment of off-the-rails insanity, he delivers one hell of an incredible piece of cinema. One that is not easily able to be classified to any one genre.

While you may have read suggestions that Black Swan and The Wrestler are two halves of the same film, make no mistake at looking at it any further beyond the comparison of being about two people toiling within two very different forms of art. Black Swan is never a low budget character piece. It is a film that navigates between being thrilling and horrific at the same time. While the horror elements start to take more prominence in the second half (specifically the rather squeamish elements of body horror, done in a way that would make David Cronenberg proud), the film never lets one completely overtake the other. It manages to maintain this sense of dread, darkness and rather graphic wound/injury infliction throughout.

The visuals and editing are the drive of what helps make the film so well done. Contrasting blacks and whites so frequently give the obvious hints of good and evil, innocence and darkness. But Aronofsky likes to throw in hints of ambiguity at every turn, changing the colours for each character depending on the scene, and depending on what they may or may not be doing. Even the scenery and set design is in plain black and whites, always making the audience guess the true motivations and intentions of both character and creator. Adding in the element of reflection, both in others and the self (mostly through mirrors), only helps compound these feelings of ambiguity and confusion. It will consistently keep audiences thinking about what is being shown and what is actually going on. The subtle visual effects and astoundingly well done score only help add to the greatness.

Aronofsky also deserves recognition for the film's lean running time. When so many films are often far too long and dragged out, this film maintains a sense of momentum that never gets lost at any point. The film's slow points are never dragged out, merely well padded out for the shift from Nina being innocent to adrenaline soaked horror as she descends into the realm of darkness. Rather gracefully, Aronofsky manages to balance the goal of Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin's script to blend Nina's tale with the story of Swan Lake itself, and never loses sight or direction at any instance. This is bravado style filmmaking at its finest, and more than suggests that the brilliant direction in Requiem for a Dream was not a fluke.

Portman, who has shown her acting merits before in the likes of Closer, delivers a startlingly intense and beautiful performance as Nina. At once you can see the innocent, sexually repressed little girl who just wants to please her mother, and the sexually depraved fallen angel, inching closer towards independence and adulthood. She is very clearly not "well" in the beginning of the film, and as the film progresses, you can practically chart her 180-degree reversal in character. She is downright terrifying in many instances, and more than proves her worth as an actress. When she finally dons makeup late in the film, her transformation from a once promising talent to a full blown powerhouse talent becomes simply marvelous to watch.

The supporting cast only helps to further complement Portman's extraordinary performance. Cassel is amazing as always as the slimy and twisted Thomas. We never really get more than hints at his true intentions, but Cassel makes every moment on-screen simply amazing. Kunis delivers a level of depth I never thought was possible for her. She commands the screen with every new scene, and this performance will easily act as a starmaking role for her. Hershey is even better; practically stealing the screen away from Portman's magnetizing performance. She makes Erica into that monster of a character everyone loves to hate, and brings a level of intensity to every mere moment she appears in. If anyone is even nearly close to equaling Portman's performance, it would be her. Despite only appearing for a few minutes, Winona Ryder is amazing in her role as the former lead ballerina Beth. I just wish she could have chewed up more scenery.

Black Swan is an incredible film from beginning to end, and will not easily leave you. It is a masterpiece of unheralded success, and is easily the best film I saw at TIFF. Watch out for it at Oscar time – it just may steal the show.

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A Swan Dive into Darkness
colinrgeorge18 October 2010
Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" makes ballet cool—and if that isn't a Herculean feat in itself, I don't know what is. It also happens to be one of the best films of the year, featuring one of the best performances of the year. Natalie Portman will be nominated for her devastating portrayal of petite perfectionist Nina the ballerina or I'll pull a Werner Herzog and eat my shoe.

"Black Swan" is cut from the same cloth as Aronofsky's 2008 film "The Wrestler," if at the opposite end. Interestingly, before either project was realized, the director was reportedly mulling a drama about the relationship between a professional wrestler and a ballerina. Somewhere along the way, however, that concept was split down the middle—and thank God. "Black Swan" is brilliant, but it wouldn't necessarily play well with others.

Like its predecessor, the film examines a physically demanding and widely unappreciated art, and though thematically similar, the two complement each other via mutually exclusive cinematic vernaculars. "The Wrestler" is ultimately a safer film. Its emotional experience is directly conveyed via plot and dialogue. What Aronofsky attempts with "Black Swan" is riskier: he plays genre Frankenstein, taking established themes and transplanting them into that which feels initially least appropriate—horror.

Yet despite certain unmistakable cues, I'd hesitate to call "Black Swan" a horror film. Visually, maybe, but John Carpenter insists "The Thing" is a Western, and likewise there is more to "Black Swan" than is aesthetically obvious. It probably best fits the psychological thriller mold, but as Aronofsky suggests through his manipulation of mirrors, it is not a film that ever casts a clear reflection. For me, that dichotomy is what makes it so fascinating and rewarding.

"Black Swan" strikes an immediate haunting note that seems to grow louder with reverberation rather than quieter. In the first half, the director lays track work; in the second, he runs right off it. Nina begins her journey receiving the coveted role of the Swan Queen in a modernist production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake." Her practiced technique makes her ideal for the role of the goodly White Swan, but her lascivious director (Vincent Cassel) has reservations about her ability to portray her evil twin, the titular Black Swan—a character that embodies impulse and lust. Nina's process of unlearning takes her to increasingly dark, surreal depths.

The final act of the film comprises the most riveting 40 minutes I've seen on screen all year, though "Black Swan" is never the mindf**k some have improperly labeled it. Aronofsky deliberately builds atmosphere and anticipation toward a Kubrickian climax that is at once obvious and stunning. Tchaikovsky's score falls like an aerial assault, and that inherent theatricality collides with Aronofsky's narrative as they come to a dual boil.

Perhaps best of all, however, is that for all the audacity on display, the director knows when to dial it back as well. The casting of Mila Kunis ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "That 70's Show") was idyllic. She plays a comic relief of sorts, with a comely, down-to-earth veneer but viperous eyes. Her performance is fantastically calculated—she provides derisive, but much needed perspective on Nina's deteriorating sense of reality.

"Black Swan" is a wholly effective work born from the shadowy underside of the mind, anchored by a career-defining turn by Portman. It is a quick, impulsive piece, but it explains artistic devotion and the consuming nature of obsession as well or better than any film I've ever seen. In hindsight, it feels more characteristic of the filmmaker responsible for "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" than "The Wrestler," though the parallels between it and "Black Swan" run deep.

They may be cut from the same cloth, but the difference between the two is as stark as black and white. Hail Aronofsky, the Swan King.
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dpoll3905 December 2010
I had the opportunity to see Black Swan in one of the 18 theaters that it opened up on this weekend, although I generally do not do so, I was compelled to write a review of the film.

From top to bottom, this film is at the height of what it means to be true art in cinema. The various elements of the film, the mise-en-scene, was so incredibly structured by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky that one need only sit back and admire at the fluidity of his camera movement, or the marvelous hue of colors amidst a film which has it's color scheme largely dedicated to the symbolism of black and white.

The performances where spot on, Vincent Cassel was terrific as the suspicious teacher, whose brilliance and lust for the dancers in his show are both quite reputable, one often beating out the other. And Mila Kunis truly shines in this one, bringing out a side of her many probably didn't know was possible. She is absolutely beautiful and aptly portrays the black contradiction to Natalie Portmans white, a terrific contrast of good and evil. Kunis, however, as many may assume, is not meant to be there to spark a general conflict of good vs evil, but to emphasize the side of Portman that we have not yet seen. A side that will drive her to the brink of insanity to obtain.

And therein lies the true theme of the film, obsession and physical strain over all else. Much like "The Wrestler" we have the main character dedicated to an unappreciated form of physical art. Here, it is Portman's obsession with becoming the lead of the ballet Swan Lake which drives her into madness. You enter her mind as her teacher pushes her to become perfect, pushing her to let go of her fragile White Swan and become the loose and destructive Black Swan. As you follow her through the stages of her audition leading towards a booming finale she becomes less and less aware of what around her is distortion and what is reality. As she loses grip, Aronofsky's ability to depict psychological deterioration shines through.

And make no mistake, this film belongs to Aronofsky and Portman. As stated, Aronofsky captures everything beautifully in frame, his movement of the camera is almost as fluent and beautiful as the very dancers on the screen. His use of behind the head vantage shots has been a bit of a trademark of his, allowing as to see what the character is. And his use of lighting is nothing short of extraordinary. But now comes the true star: Natalie Portman. She blew me away, from start to finish, she displayed her transformation for the sweet girl to the physically and psychologically obsessed, all the way through attempting to embody the white and black swan when necessary, literally trying to become them in her mind, driving her towards insanity in the pursuit of perfection. Words cannot describe Portman's performance here, to say it is Oscar worthy would be a vast understatement, as the depth of her character goes so deep it would nearly be worthy of playing two separate roles. So fragile at time that you fear for her life, and so corrupted at others that you hate her. Acting at it's finest, Portman deserves an Oscar.

All things considered the film is nearly perfect, one of the best dramas I've ever seen, and one that is as iconic and intense as it is horrifying at times. Just to mention a few other things, Winona Ryder, in the small amount of screen time she had, was spectacular, and truly terrifying during particular scenes. And as always, when Aronofsky and Clint Mansell team up, the score is both epic and eerie, somehow simultaneously. The overcasting score of a distorted and intense version of Swan Lake itself brilliantly compliments the atmosphere throughout the film as these two artist have done before. It could nearly work as a silent film, that's how brilliant it is. If you get the opportunity once this film undoubtedly expands to other theaters see it, it's harrowing and at times difficult to watch, but that combination of beauty and horror makes it impossible to turn away.
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The price of perfection
moviemanMA5 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is an examination of obsession. Obsession for beauty, fame, and above all, perfection. We are shown glimpses of its splendor, only to be consumed by the ugliness and harsh reality that is the world of professional ballet.

Nina Sayers, played by the talented Natalie Portman, is placed in the precarious situation of replacing the company's former star (Winona Ryder), the shining pupil of director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), in the production of Swan Lake. The role is a dual role, in which she must play both the sweet, innocent White Swan as well as her evil twin sister, the Black Swan. Though Nina is best suited for the White Swan, she must find a way to evoke her inner Black Swan.

Though all of the ballerinas in the company would kill for her role, the least jealous one, Lily, played by Mila Kunis in a breakthrough performance, has become Nina's biggest rival, catching the eye of Thomas. Still, Nina is set on perfecting the role.

It is Nina's obsession for perfection, a constant theme through the film, that is the root of her troubles. This obsession is passed down from her mother, played brilliantly by Barbara Hershey. She too was a ballerina but gave up her career to support Nina, living vicariously through her daughter. Her obsession for dance is shared by all dancers, really, but Nina takes it a step further, causing it to physically and mentally affect her.

The pain and suffering that Nina's goes through takes its toll early on in the film. She sees herself on the faces of strangers, the scratching and itching she inflicts on her back, yet we never see, and the scrapes and cuts that appear out of thin air, as if something inside of her is ready to burst out. As the film goes on, it becomes more clear that her thoughts and hallucinations are blending with her reality to the point where she can't distinguish the two from one another.

Here's where Aronofsky's obsession/passion for filmmaking takes over. He too seeks perfection in his work, finding the right camera angles, the right tempo, and the right composition. This film has some of his best camera work to date, thanks to the cinematography of Matthew Libatique, whose fluid camera movements are the glue that hold the film together.

Aronofsky is a director who tries to make his shots look as beautiful as they can be, while not blowing you away with CGI and special effects. The Fountain, though not a perfect movie by any means, had some truly outstanding photography (also partnered with Libatique) that wasn't heavy on the artificial special effects. Here he makes a similar attempt to create an incredibly realistic picture. It helps that both Portman and Kunis dedicated months and months of training and dieting to get the appropriate look for the film. That hard work paid off for sure.

Without those two ladies the film would be lost. Having seen the film I can't see another actress in either role. They were perfectly cast. Portman, though not afraid to show some skin for the camera in a film like Closer (and even Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones), acts and appears so fragile and innocent in many of her roles. Kunis on the other hand, hearkening back to her days on "That 70s Show" has always been the pretty girl with a bit of attitude. Her eyes are almost hypnotic. These two women play perfectly off of each other, contrasting like the two swans in the ballet. I'm sure the talk of the movie will be the scene in Nina's bedroom (see it for yourself), but I enjoyed their night on the town leading up to the bedroom scene more. We see Lilly's influence and persuasiveness affect Nina tremendously.

Their performances are backed by a tight story. It's takes us places that we least expect to go, showing us beautiful and disturbing images that you would not expect from a movie about ballerinas, making Black Swan one of the more original psychological thrillers in the past decade. Like every good thriller, there needs to be good music, too. Enter Clint Mansell, whose score for Aronofsky's second film Requiem for a Dream has become one of the more beloved scores of all time. I am particularly fond of his work for Moon, but Requiem is just as good if not better. Here we have a great blend of classical and original pieces.

These pieces come together to create a portrait of a dancer whose demeanor gets in the way of her heart's yearning for success. When her dreams start slipping, her mind does the same. Passion leads to obsession. Obsession leads to transformation. The White Swan becomes the Black Swan, and she must pay the price.
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Remarkable.. Aronofsky holds nothing back
hypercube21 December 2010
Yeah, it must be Darren Aronofsky, at it again. I'm certain I've just seen a brilliant piece of filmmaking, but at the same time I feel like I've just been run over by a convoy of trucks. It will be a while before I calm down enough to sleep, so here I am.

Not everyone is as big as of an Aronofsky's style as I am, but one thing that can't be denied is that he is great at working with actors. Ellen Burstyn, Mickey Rourke, and now Natalie Portman are all very accomplished actors who have found a new level and delivered transcendent performances under Aronofsky. In Black Swan, Natalie Portman's turn as Nina Sayers is, hands down, the best acting performance of 2010-- male or female. If you'll forgive the cliché, I completely forgot Nina was Natalie Portman about five minutes into the movie. As Nina goes deeper and deeper into her role as the Swan Queen, Portman only becomes more and more captivating. The entire cast is excellent, but Portman alone makes this movie a must-see.

Darren Aronofsky is at his boldest heading up Black Swan. His depiction of Nina's struggles as she succumbs to growing pressures from her director, her mother, her rivals, her physical ailments, her personal need for a perfect performance.. it is intense, thrilling, exhausting, and truly gripping throughout. Part of what makes it work is that we are completely along for the ride with Nina. We see what she sees, we experience what she experiences, and sometimes it is truly distressing stuff.

As great as the first 60-70 minutes are, man oh man, nothing can prepare you for the final 30. This finale takes you to places I can't even describe. I dare say it's on par with Requiem for a Dream's devastating third act. It's a masterfully crafted climax that only Aronofsky could deliver.

I am glad Aronofsky is able to do what he does. His brutal and uncompromising style is definitely not for everyone, and it's not box office gold, but for those viewers who connect with what he's doing, the experience is truly something special.
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Mediocre and immature
mikelepost11 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the commercials for Black Swan, I walked into the theater expecting to see a film about a career ballerina who is forced to access her repressed dark side in preparation for her role as the swan queen and cracks under the pressure. Instead, the film I saw was about a meek young woman who's possibly schizophrenic and certainly on the verge of a nervous breakdown from the opening reel. There's no real drama because Nina is already broken. All that's left is for the viewer is to watch her become increasingly unhinged.

Black Swan has a lot of flaws: The conception of Nina (Natalie Portman) is a major problem. No woman this childish and meek would ever last in an elite dance company, so it's highly improbable that the company director (Vincent Cassel) would single her out for the prima ballerina role. We keep hearing about how Nina is technically perfect but clinical and restrained, but we never see any evidence of this fact because Portman is filmed mostly in tight facial close-ups during these scenes, probably to disguise the fact that her dancing isn't so spectacular.

The film is utterly predictable in that Nina becomes increasingly unhinged to the point that we, the viewer, no longer know whether what we're watching is "real" of one of her hallucinations, which greatly resemble horror movie clichés: she's stalked by her doppelganger, her reflection moves with a mind of its own, she imagines mutilating herself, etc. None of these images are particularly inspired and they spell out the theme of the story in the most obvious way.

Black Swan was utterly derivative of other, better movies. I haven't seen The Red Shoes but so much of Nina's relationship with her mother was cribbed directly from The Piano Teacher that Michael Haneke could probably sue Aronofsky for plagiarism. Likewise, the whole angle of Nina's repressed sexuality leading to her breakdown was done better by Polanski in Repulsion, and that was almost 50 years ago. Black Swan is mostly a hodge-podge of better films.

Finally, the film is every bit as Manichean as its title, with only two poles for its characters: perfectly pure and virginal white or the sensual black whore. Nina has a few drinks, masturbates and tells her oppressive mother off, and we're supposed to take this as some sort of exploration of her "dark side." Her rival ballerina Lily (Mila Kunis) literally has black wings tattooed on her back. Could you get any more obvious? I'd suggest that Black Swan works best as high camp and there were some unintended laughs in my theater, but the film is so self-serious and artistically restrained that it's not even gonzo enough to be funny. Mostly it's misery porn that wallows in Nina's suffering without giving the viewer a credible rationale for watching.

Look, the film is well-directed, it looks great, the actors generally deliver good performances despite under-written roles. I've seen many worse films than Black Swan. But in this case the hype is so wildly overblown that I'm tempted to rate the movie even lower than it deserves. Truthfully, this is a 6 out of 10 picture and only slightly better than average.
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Absolutely amazing.
DirkesDiggler28 October 2010
I was lucky enough to see this at the Austin Film Festival and was absolutely blow away.

Aronofsky is, in many ways, like Nick Cave. You know going in that you are going to get something gritty, raw, and real. You know that, even if it's good, it's going to be hard to process. But when he gets a hold of something, really gets a hold of it, you won't be able to look away, no matter how hard it is to watch. He is a singular filmmaker in the regard that he can create something that is both visceral and cerebral at the same time. Others can do this, but few as well. What he does is never hollow, shallow, or empty, it is always dense, deep, and rich with everything that makes film great.

"Black Swan" is no exception. In many ways this is the most Aronofsky of his films. His style is spot on and works exquisitely with the world he is presenting. It's surprising because he normally shows the dirty, gritty, and ugly places, where as everything in this film is clean and polished. But don't let that fool you, he saved the dirt and grit for the characters. It's remarkable that the man who was able to show the sensitive, and vulnerable side of a wrestler is also able to show the brutal and hard side of a ballerina? For starters, this film looks amazing. The production design, specifically the use of black and white in contrast (don't spend time looking for this, it's everywhere and you will miss something if you do) does it's job without feeling invasive. The lighting is brilliant, as is the staging of the dance scenes. I'm still stunned that the same eye that brought the grainy subway bathroom of "Pi" to life is the same eye that brings all this rich and beautiful color so clearly to the screen.

He also does a brilliant job of creating the world that these characters inhabit. This film reminded me of all the terrible parts of my theater days. The backstabbing, the trash talking, and the two faced nature of that world is portrayed with a deft and brilliant touch. There is a constant fear that you are one mistake away from losing not only your part, but your future parts as well. You feel like you are a part of this world, that he pressure of it is part of your world.

The camera work is great, if a little typical of Aronofsky at times (we see the backs of heads quite a bit, it works, but you see it a lot), but it is very affective. The somewhat jittery, close hand-held shots are perfect and pull you deeper into this world than may be comfortable.

Then there are the name performances. Of the name actors you mostly get what you expect. Portman, Cassel, Hershey, and Rider are outstanding. The only real shock, for me anyway, is Mila Kunis. I know her as Jackie from "That 70's Show," and nothing else. She damned near steals the show. That's right, in a move where she shares screen with Natalie Portman, AND Vincent Cassel she is able to not only hold her own, but walk away with some scenes. The interplay between her wild, unrestrained Lilly, and Portman's frightened, tightly wound Nina creates a brilliant external tension to match, and at times overpower, the internal tension that lies at the very core of Nina.

I have been a fan of Aronofsky's work since I saw "Pi" on it's original theatrical run ( I think I was the only person in the theater for that midnight show), and he has yet to disappoint. He has a definite point of view and a thematic core that runs through his work. Thematically, this is in keeping with most of Aronofsky's work. It's about control and the loss of that control. What happens when a perfectionist control freak is in a position where she HAS to let go of that control? What takes over when she does let go? In typical fashion, Aronofsky shows us that sometimes in striving to get what we want, we risk losing a part of us that we may never be able to get back, and don't realize how desperately we need.

Read more from me at
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Engaging psychological horror despite not being as "high-brow" as the ballet frame suggests
bob the moo31 January 2011
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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Is it just me? We get it, it's a competitive dance world and it can drive you mad.
gapodaca111 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Thumbs down. I've compared this movie to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that is if Mr. Hyde went M.I.A. It was self-indulgent, over-rated and for my money, a waste of time. Sure, Natalie Portman deserves credit for losing 20 pounds and learning some dance moves, but, her acting was flat. Most of the film she played Nina as the Naive, frustrated woman the role required. However, where was the redemptive aggression of the Black Swan? That would have been an action challenge! It was reduced to a few scenes at the end. Wasn't that the whole point of the film? It felt like, "OK, we're almost out of money so let's wrap this up." And don't try to label the movie sophisticated or artsy. Please!!!! There's no more sophistication here than a skin-flick on Cinemax. Just because Nina grows wings on stage and her eyes turn red does not make an art-house masterpiece. And the tired lesbian scene is so gratuitous and, frankly, offensive. Yep, another gay predator trying to take the good straight girl to the dark side. I believe this story could have been told beautifully. And not all of it is bad. The music was good and some of the dance scenes were believable. I also liked the camera-work. But, somehow - let's blame the screenwriter and the director - it all turns into a boring cliché': resentful mother pushing her daughter to the brink, lesbian sex-scene, the older man/younger women love triangle, etc. Can anyone tell an original story anymore? Boring! As for Portman, she will win the Oscar for "Black Swan," however, she should have won it for "Closer."
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A young, ambitious,dancer gets chosen for the part of Odette/Odille and the demands of the performance further the unraveling of her psyche.
lbolard10 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
By Linda Winsh-Bolard I don't know why I do this to myself. It is not as if my expectations were high, or hardly any. I was not paid to see it. But I did. It was a dismal experience.

A young, ambitious, starved in all meanings of the word dancer gets chosen for the part of Odette/Odille, here called the Queen Swan and the demands of the performance further the unraveling of her psyche.

Natalie Portman is Nina, the insecure dancer with controlling mother (Barbara Hershey) and desire for limelight. Mila Kunis is Lily, the equally starved, fun, drug, sex and alcohol loving newcomer. Nina feels threatened by the incomprehensible Lily having just witnessed how brutally the artistic director (Vincent Cassel)dealt with the former company's star, Beth.

Nina begins to have odd experience and visions, everything seems suspicious to her. She is getting paranoid. All that while she trains to dance the double part that is, in this film, presented as virginal innocence versus evil seducer.

From the beginning the premise is off kilter. Ballet companies contract number of prima ballerinas and premier danseurs. These are the dancers who will perform the title roles. They do not audition for each part; nor would anyone dare to call a prima ballerina "girl".

Each significant role in any ballet has at least three dancers performing it. This is necessary because there could be more than one performance a day which would pose a real strain on dancer's body. Hence there is never just one "name" posted or adulated. Premier dances in USA usually perform and train together- think of Gelsey Kirkland and Misha Baryshnikov. And the Odette/Odille part is traditionally danced by two different dancers. In one staging, the Black swan was danced by black prima ballerina while the White Swan by a white one.

I have never even heard of am artistic director who would pick a dancer form the corps de ballet and elevated her to primadona. I assume such action would cost dearly in law suits.

As per the constant sexual innuendo, the film is about 30 year late for that.

Ditto for those starved, little girl bodies that Balanchine so adored and abused. That has been over for a bit now as well as most of the sexual harassment. Not all, but most.

Nina would not be the first woman who, while perpetually undernourished, under extreme stress of unnatural expectations (no dancer is as good as the computer image), exposed to alcohol, drugs and power manipulation would crack.

But to present this as succumbing to the role is ridiculous.

Dancers train to dance. The ballet mistress/mister is rarely concerned with the story beyond its barest gist. Their effort is for exact movement, timing, high jumps and effortless look. Anyone in dance company will hear the word "heels" (as to land on your heels and jump from your knees) far more often than "seduction".

The presented milieu is a throw into the past, those stories read and heard on the fringes.

Only when I realized that the entire production was run by men, it began to make sense.

This is one of those stories where males present feeble female mind. Females are only capable of submission to male will, they desire to do so and sexually starved virgins go mad. Females cannot live without males; it is unnatural. Ambitions is unseemly in a female whose psyche is best suited to nurturing of a child and making home for her man. Nina goes mad because she is a warped female, as is the former star ballet, Beth (Winona RyderWinona Ryder).

As a statement of Christian teaching cliché, the film does a good job. As a presentation of male ego and the nearly absolute lack of understanding of women by those men of certain age and education, it does an excellent job.

As dancer and dancer's world picture is worthless.

As a portrait of a prima ballerina it is a bad joke.

As for dancing, there is very little of it. The memorable moment comes as Odette, i remarkable costume and mask, finishes her solo; Nina's arms grow black make-up and change into beautiful black wings. It is a very compelling image possible only in film.

So, I went to take a class. Adult ballet dancer have to this every day. I did not dream about becoming Odette. I always hated those 16 turns on each leg- the film does not show them either.

Fox Searchlight, directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Mark Heyman, Andrew Heinz and John McLaughlinJohn McLaughlin.
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An epic and nightmarish delight
Samiam33 December 2010
Natalie Portman lives a dream and a nightmare when she gets a chance to dance Swan Lake in Darren Aronofsky's new film

Black Swan is a very bi polarized film. Portman dances as the white swan flawlessly, but her 'brilliant' choreographer has doubts about her as the black swan. She needs to 'live a little' and be less mannered, but the closer she gets to that point, the more the walls start to close in all around her.

Darren Aronofsky, though he comes close to being heavy handed, has delivered a project which is fiery, spectacular and clever. He sells us ballet as something dark and off putting, starting from his decision to reveal what dancing does to peoples bodies. One mistake and you can crack a toe nail under your body weight, but I don't wanna oversell it. To look at Black Swan in another way, it is an operatic horror film, It has incredible style, but uses it not so much to dazzle but to confuse and intimidate. The paradox of Black swan is that it creepiness is kind of seductive, because it draws you in (much like the way vampires are supposedly romantic)

But style is only half the picture (not even). The rest is in the cast, and mostly in Natalie Portman. She is slow to get started, but she grows quickly and the result is arguably her best performance yet. I've never loved her that much. She's always struck me as more of a girl than a woman, but I guess all she needs is to get a little blood on her hands, and you have an award worthy performance. Vincent Cassel, though he gets some questionable lines, is also at his best. I would have almost liked to see more of him, because you get the sense that his role has a bit more room to grow.

Black Swan does quite a bit, but it's not for everyone. Do not go into this expecting to be emotionally enriched. From the beginning, it is staged to be a mind-twirl, delighting in playing tricks on the audience. Some might call it cheating, but that would be the wrong way to look at Black Swan. It's quite epic, and with year coming to an end, I think it's fair to say that it is among the best of 2010.
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How Many Clichés?
wisewebwoman15 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I lost track. Seriously. I am still astonished at the high rating it had here at IMDb (which rarely lets me down) as that is what encouraged me to go.

Natalie Portman, whether the white swan or black swan, is an expressionless member of the chorus selected by the choreographer to play the lead in Swan Lake. Inexplicably, I might add, when there are far more talented dancers around her.

She is a one-note swan. Her facial expression never varies from sad, purse-mouthed and leaky eyed. I got so tired of looking at her face and it is shown just about all the time. To top it off, I felt absolutely no connection with any other character as the movie wound excruciatingly along on its hopeless execrable way to nowhere.

The lack of script is a serious flaw: but the graphic detail of what she does do is laid out: she vomits, she slashes herself, she lives with her mother, she has lesbian sex - sorta, but she has no background, no character, apart from mommy's girl, no friends, no interactions with others apart from the briefest of convos about ballet. The mother is completely cardboard - with matching dialogue - "I gave up my career for you, poor me".

This comes across as a horror movie with an unnecessary disgust factor aiming for the roof. I covered my eyes many times. Not in fear but in a kind of shame that a movie could be this bad. It is not even a good ballet movie, the dance sequences are choppy compounded by the uneven hand of the director everywhere.

When the audience started to laugh about 1/3 of the way through, I knew it was all hopeless. I joined in, that's how appallingly bad it all was. In the final scene, the laugh meter topped out. It is that unbelievable and unintentionally comedic.

1 out of 10 from me as minuses are not allowed.

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All the Appeal of a Cooked Goose
jjbbelgium16 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
My biggest gripe about this movie is the fact the Portman character has all the presence and self-confidence of a puddle. In real life, no production company would allow someone with so little confidence to assume the top role. Millions of dollars are at stake and investors would need to be confident that the lead could handle the more difficult" Black Swan" role, upfront. No one would allow weeks of crying and hallucinations, right up till opening night (and even late for that) to prove that they can actually do the job. Also, the big flub in the first act would have likely caused the second to take her place. Obviously, someone with the low self-esteem (demonstrated by the Portman character) could never hope to gain even a minor role with a ballet company, and certainly not the lead. The competition is just too stiff. Also, Portman does not have the correct body type and is a little short at only 5'3". The boiled chicken and fresh-plucked look was also a big turn-off. In real life, someone so mechanical and fearful would never make it to the top ranks. A second-string "Rockette" has more stones than the Portman character.
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If you love your ballet - stay away!
Radu_A22 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
When a movie is being hyped to a substantial degree, there is always a risk that this is not exactly due to its merit, but rather part of an aggressive marketing campaign. Rarely has such a phenomena been so obvious as prior to the release of 'Black Swan': the media have been up and running about Portman's real-life romance sparked during its filming, plus pondering the chances of 'Black Swan' establishing ballet as a fashion trend. Still, having been partnered with a dancer for a number of years, I couldn't resist the temptation - as a result of which I have to side with those reviewers here who regard it as an utterly pointless affair.

What bothered me slightly were the abundant factual errors in depicting a dance company, although that's where most of the action takes place. Even overlooking the myth of the all-powerful choreographer who can choose his lead at random and at any given time: to have the lead's antagonist being chosen as her substitute almost at the end of the film is a quite unnecessary blunder. Even the friend I was watching the film with asked me if such an important matter were not decided earlier on. Other incoherences were Winona Ryder's character - a lead isn't likely to be fired like that - and Vincent Cassel's character - a choreographer engaging in such rampant displays of sexual harassment wouldn't be likely to make creative director. Add the stereotypical career mom of Portman's stereotypically fretting artiste, plus the stereotypically venomous scheming antagonist, and voilà, there's your assembly of paper-thin characters in a papier-mâché world.

What bothered me more about 'Black Swan' was the excessive use of special effects to drive its already not-quite-so-hard-to-understand message home: feathers growing out of scratches, talking photos and the much-used eye-liner-enhanced demonic expression of the transformed 'Black Swan' made me wish to metaphorically grab Aronofsky by the collar and scream: Enough of this already! I-GOT-THE-PICTURE!!! Stop goofing off and go ahead with the story, g-dd-mm-t! The problem with this being that, had the plot been as straight forward as in Aronofsky's much better 'Wrestler', the runtime would have hardly exceeded 30 minutes.

However, what bothers me most about 'Black Swan' is its complete lack of respect for its subject matter. Hitherto all dance films have somehow attempted to grasp the particular mix of hard work and inspiration this art form demands and presents like no other. Yet although this issue is pretty much the crux of Black Swan's story, it fails to feature a full dance scene; instead, there are snippets of real and imaginary dance-inflicted wounds, and a steady-cam rotating around its star, thereby consciously ignoring the essence of ballet per se: its effect as an ensemble piece. Anybody who has ever seen 'Swan Lake' or any other ballet piece, for that matter, will probably concur that the interaction between dancers is at least as important as their individual talent. 'Black Swan' makes it almost seem as if a lead dancer is something like the star of a Las Vegas show. The only thing missing is Portman smattering a catchy tune out of her shiny black lips.

One may argue that accuracy is not what the film is about, that it is a psychological thriller. But why make use of the black swan/ white swan metaphor of the piece, and then detach the whole story from the piece and the art that inspires it? Even those who liked the film should ask themselves: does this movie really address ballet in any way but that very metaphor? And isn't the whole story revolving around such an obvious analogy completely pointless? Another sign of disrespect to me is the investment of 'Swan Lake', which as a mainstay of classical ballet can be said to be a part of an unquestionable cultural heritage, with a highly cliché and passé Freudian repressed-sexuality-slash-schizophrenia gimmick. Not only is such an approach rather pompous and shallow, but it is also inadvertently funny; the means by which the lead character attempts to relieve herself earned quite a few snickers in the audience I was in. Imagine a 90-minute-film about the sexual symbolism of 'Hansel & Gretel', and you'll get an idea what to intellectually expect, and a conclusion which - I have to concur with a number of other reviews - is painfully easy to figure out.

In short: the most over-hyped and annoying film I've seen in a long time. Definitely not for dance enthusiasts. If you're looking for a psychological thriller in the world of entertainment, try the anime 'Perfect Blue', which judging from Black Swan's style seems to be familiar to Aronofsky. And better dance films? Just pick any of them, from 'The Red Shoes' to 'Billy Elliot' - they all have more to say about the art of and devotion to dance than this one.
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The Good and The Bad
jullashanghavi14 September 2010
I was very lucky to snag tickets to see Black Swan at the the Toronto International Film Festival.

THE GOOD: Natalie Portman's acting was perfection - definitely an Oscar worthy performance. Mila Kunis's performance was surprising in a good way, it is clear that she stepped out of her comfort zone. The film's musical score was superb. Of course, much of it was taken from 'Swan Lake', but I loved that they were able to incorporate that music throughout the entire film and not just in the ballet scenes. Of course, it was beautifully shot and the plot was riveting - I was drawn in from beginning to end. The audience saw a new side of ballet/ theatre that is not often shown in popular films - the struggle the performer faces in committing to and perfecting a role. The struggle between 'good' vs. 'evil' was presented in a methodical and intriguing way.

THE BAD: Many parts of this film felt like it belonged in the horror Genre. Some parts definitely made me jump or cringe (which I was not expecting). The film was also an emotional roller-coaster, which was fine at first, but This 'emotional roller-coaster' sort of dragged on to the point that it almost felt like it was too much. I just feel that it could have been tuned down a notch.

Overall, I thought that most of the film was wonderful, and I highly recommend it.
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Horse Feathers
jacklmauro9 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The worst thing about the very bad 'Swan' is that, somehow, people think it's a brilliant film. The best thing is that it makes you wish somebody would really center a great film in the fascinating world of ballet. This...ain't it. I read this script was developed over ten years. Really? Ten years in which to create a cartoon, horny, bombastic company director, spouting clichés about 'passion' and 'letting go'? Ten years, and no one notices that Nina has no character at all? Ten years, and it seemed plausible that a blatantly frightened, whiny dancer should get the lead in 'Swan Lake'? Quite honestly, I kept waiting for this film to actually begin; only when the absurd death-drive ending was tacked on did I realize it was over. Utterly bad, all the way, and mostly because we get no sense of Portman's identity WHATSOEVER. More exactly, there is no foundation upon which to build either the dark side's emergence from her, OR her horror of it. Other reviews here rightly point out the idiocies, as in a star ballerina being 'fired' and in drunken shock over it, or an alternate lead selected so late in the game, or a director engaging in conduct that would get any artistic director out on his ass in a heartbeat, no matter the artsy milieu. All of that would have been bearable, had there been any notion even hinted at of what and who Nina is. Nothing. So weird stuff happens to this non-character, there's a ridiculously gratuitous lesbian fantasy, you early on don't freak over the blood because, after five minutes, you know it's in her head, and then she achieves perfection in death. And you don't care at all. PS How bad? I kept longing to see Barbra Streisand take the stage in a tutu, saying, 'You vanna kill a swvan? Dese lovelies?'
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igorekh22 February 2011
I really don't understand what so many reviewers saw in this movie. I don't want to overreact and say it is terrible, but there is nothing in it that inspires or makes one think. It is a well made film. The directing is good, the performance by Natalie Portman is very believable. However, the problem with the movie is that Nina - the main character is flat and uninteresting. Right from the beginning of the movie the viewer is lead to believe that Nina is good, but all I saw is a confused and obsessed individual. She does not love anyone, she has no friends, she does not care about anyone... The only bright spot is her dream to become a leading ballerina in a Swan Lake production, however the movie never really explains why this dream is important to her, and for this reason it is hard to see this dream as anything but another of Nina's obsessions. In short, I just didn't find anything in this movie worth watching. And while I can't say I regret watching it, I would not recommend it either.
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A seductive masterpiece
KnightsofNi114 December 2010
Darren Aronofsky proves once again that he is an absolute genius in the modern world of cinema and he can work in any genre and make it look beautiful, real, visceral, and always keeping with his specific visual style, proving himself to be an absolute auteur. Black Swan is Aronofsky's fifth feature film, and it shows how his directing ability is somehow getting better. The movie is about a ballet dancer, Nina (Natalie Portman), who is dealing with the pressures of playing The Swan Queen in her companies production of Swan Lake. The pressures brought about by this demanding role cause her to begin to slowly crack under pressure, especially when she has to worry about a rival dancer possibly taking her spot. My synopsis doesn't do the film any justice though, and the result of this story is a disturbing and breath taking thriller that combines beauty with visceral intensity, and keeps you on the edge of your seat and your eyes glued to the screen.

Aronofsky's directing style is incredibly sophisticated and mature in this film. It is grand and beautiful. The ballet scenes are all very delicate and soft, yet there's always an underlying tension. This tension eventually breaks through as the film at times switches to a much darker and more disturbing mood. We are lulled into a false sense of security in many aspects of the film, as it builds and builds to the shocking and chilling climax. The movie flows so beautifully and it delicately weaves in and out of its multitude of moods that keeps us watching and waiting, as the film only grows darker and darker. As the moods of the film change, the style does as well in a very minuscule range, but it is always fitting wherever the film moves. Black Swan is sensual, seductive, lustful, and intense, and Aronofsky's direction captures it all perfectly.

With a style as complex and masterful as Aronofsky's, it is hard for any aspect of the film to look bad, but this wasn't a problem because I felt that every aspect of this film was nearly flawless. One such aspect was the brilliant acting from the small yet very important cast that really helped a movie that needed no help at all. Natalie Portman as Nina was incredible. Her transformation through the movie is disturbing and very intense, and Portman handles it incredibly well. She plays a very flawed character, making the role even tougher. Nina is not the greatest ballet dancer in the world by any stretch of the imagination. She has all the technique and is in fact a master at it, yet it is her emotion that she has the problem with. Portman almost had to act her character poorly to capture the multiple layers correctly. The unfitting facial expressions and awkward movements are part of the character of Nina, and Portman somehow makes it all work to a great advantage that makes the film even more fascinating.

The rest of the cast is incredible as well. Mila Kunis takes on a much more serious and more complex role than she is used to. Her character has very many layers, and doesn't fit into one specific archetype, mainly for reasons that would spoil the movie. Vincent Cassel is the sleazy and inappropriate director of this ballet production. He is the driving force behind much of the tragedy of the film, and he is a character you love to hate. Then perhaps one of the most disturbing characters is Barbara Hershey as Erica, Nina's mother. Erica lives vicariously through her daughter and is constantly pushing her to better while also sheltering her from the world and everything that is out there past ballet. She is the reason for Nina's rigid structure in her life that is a constant pressure to do better. The introduction of Erica's true motivation is one of the most stunning and tragic elements of the movie. We are shown only a facade of the mother at the beginning of the film, being tricked into believing that Nina and her mother live a happy and beautiful life together as a loving mother and daughter. But further down the road as the film grows darker we realize just how skewed and disturbed their relationship is. It is a great bit of character development that has a very important role in the films overall progression.

If I could use one word to describe Black Swan it would be seductive. The movie is ripe with sexual tension, and it drags you in whether you want to be or not. It grabs ahold of your attention, as well as your emotions. The film is so beautiful, yet so tense and so powerful. It fascinates and hypnotizes, and you want nothing more than to know what is going to happen to these people in this disturbed story. It is a film that wraps itself around your brain, rendering you speechless for its entire length. There is just something so unique and so incredible about this film that it almost felt awkward stepping back into reality when it was all over. Black Swan is a masterpiece, and definitely one of the best of 2010.
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self-indulgent, excruciating; maybe 15 beautiful seconds
michael-4584 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
My family almost walked out. My grown daughter said, "I'm going to remember this director's name and avoid his flicks. And as for Natalie ... it's going to take me awhile to forgive her."

There was one exquisite scene -- when Natalie turned into the Black Swan.

Too many excruciating scenes to list. The fingernail business was inexcusable.

The emblematic black/white swan idea was missing and/or completely muffed. I assume the director just didn't get it. There are so many movies that get the metaphor right. There simply was no white swan here.

We know and are friends with dancers, serious ones -- maybe not New York types, and maybe that's the problem. There's no reason the portrayal has to be so raw and wretched.

This movie has done a serious disservice to the Dance. If you love ballet, skip it.
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Black Swan- Oscar's for Best Film and Natalie Portman?
rbylakx20 November 2010
I will not give away any spoilers so as not to possibly ruin the experience for anyone, but I can say that this movie left me shaking when it was over. What did I just see? I know I was caught up and went for the entire ride from the opening scene till the very end. The reaction of the audience was evident as the end credits came. NO ONE left their seats. They sat and applauded loudly the names as they scrolled up, then upon the very last credit on the screen, they applauded loudly again.

It's a brilliant piece of film making and story telling and acting. "Black Swan", as well as "The King's Speech", will DOMINATE at the 2011 Oscars and Golden Globes and whatever other films awards show there is... AND deservedly so.

I am anxious to see the film again right away with friends, but will actually wait to continue to savor the feeling the initial viewing of the film still illicit in me. It was a thrilling time and I am looking forward to seeing just how successful this film will become and what my friends and family will say.
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Nothing more than a bundle of humiliating clichés
natalik3 March 2011
Yes. This movie is disgracefully awful. Sigh. I've just returned from the cinema and had to write here, because I read so many misleading reviews that referred to this movie as a "masterpiece". Perhaps a masterpiece of emptiness. It has nothing in it, no matter where you try to look from, no matter how many fingers will be shoved in unbecoming places. Such an amateur work is suitable for a 1st year student who still hasn't been cured yet of superficial story patterns. *Everything* in this movie, with no single exception, is screaming of banality. The characters, their characteristics, their actions, the turn of events. It's all one big yawn, following childish formulas so blindly.

Do yourselves a favor and don't go to see it..

Better go watch "The Piano Teacher", the striking French movie which succeeds in doing what this movie can only dream of... you see, I'm not against some disturbance and provocation, but even that can be brought to an artistic level or, as we see in "Black Swan", be thrown everywhere without any depth to back it up...
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Incredibly sad, beautiful, tragic and brilliant
Smells_Like_Cheese23 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Perfection is a state of completeness and flawlessness. How many of you have known a perfectionist or you yourself feel the need to be perfect at all times? To the point where it almost drives you or the person insane? But to be honest, I think we've all had those moments of wanting to be perfect. Praised as one of the best films of the year, Darren Aronofsky takes us into the psyche of another character, I would say that this is my favorite film by him. At a young age he has come so far in creating some of cinema's most fascinating characters and stories, he's given us such amazing films. His vision brings out one of the year's best films and one of my new favorites, he and Natalie Portman were meant to work together. I absolutely adore Natalie Portman, but I have been waiting for her to have a role as challenging as Black Swan, her intelligence, grace, beauty and talent shine and I hope she is not only nominated but wins the Oscar for this film. The supporting cast is incredible as well, Mila Kunis, I am just falling in love with her. Proving more and more that she's not just a pretty face but can take on a role that can be dangerous and makes it her own and makes it relatable to the audience. Vincent Cassel is becoming one of my favorite actors, he's so strong and passionate and clearly gave so much into this role as the seductive dance teacher who in a sense is his dancer's prince from Swan Lake.

A New York City ballet company is preparing for the production of Swan Lake, which tells the story of an innocent, fragile White Swan who falls in love with a Prince. The ballet company has chosen to cast a newcomer to the dual role of both the White and Black Swan, casting out their top ballerina Beth MacIntyre. Dancer Nina Sayers, extremely dedicated to achieving technical perfection, competes for the part alongside several other young dancers, including Lily. Nina lives with her overbearing and controlling mother, Erica, who was herself a former dancer and is determined to keep Nina's career from getting derailed, as hers did when she got pregnant with Nina. The director, Thomas, is casts Nina. But he claims that she is the perfect White Swan, fragile and innocent, but he simply doesn't believe she has the ability to transform herself into the darkly sensual Black Swan. Nina begins suffering bizarre, and often grisly, hallucinations often involving injuries to herself. However, as soon as the injury appears it will disappear, leaving Nina disoriented and frightened. Nina also begins to feel Lily, a fellow dancer who was cast in a minor role in the production, is determined to take the role from her. Lily is wild, sensual and unruly - ideal casting for the Black Swan. Leroy is becoming increasingly frustrated with Nina, desiring passion and guile from her, and receiving only control and innocence. Tensions are also heating with Nina's mother, who believes the role is too much for Nina. What Nina doesn't realize is that the only thing that is holding her back form being perfect is herself and her lack of making one mistake.

Though I found the film predictable at times, I loved the study of Nina's character. Is she crazy and how she became that way is just so tragic. The way her mother behaves around her, almost an incestuous relationship is just horrific, not giving her daughter a chance to grow up and become a woman. Nina is trying so hard to be perfect that she forgets that it's OK to let loose and make a mistake. Her dance is so beyond beautiful, Natalie is one heck of a dancer and you can only imagine some of the pain she endured for this movie. Her dancing tells a story as well, her body language, you can tell she thinks too hard about things. Lily is exactly what Nina always wanted to be but couldn't because of her mother. Lily and Nina's love scene is so beyond intense, you just find yourself loosing your mind with Nina.

Black Swan is not only one of the best movies of the year, but one of my favorite films. I can't stop thinking about it and cannot wait until I get the DVD so I can watch it more and study it. It's a darker version of the play Swan Lake and is just so hauntingly beautiful. I'm sure there are flaws, I can think of a couple, however, the film did satisfy me greatly and I can't wait to see it again. Darren has once again given the world another film that is just incredible and will be discussed for years.

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The Black Turkey
trans_mauro13 February 2011

Another artsy-farty film about an artsy-fartsy subject made for the artsy-fartsy crowd....

TBS is a tedious, stagnant and derivative film that goes absolutely nowhere.

Well, one wonders, what can be as exciting as the backstage story of a young lady competing to be the prima ballerina in a new production of The Black Swan? Not much really, because under normal circumstances there is nothing going on in this type of environment, unless one is interested in underweight, monomaniac girls with inflated egos whose main objective in life consists of perfecting the vacuosity of dancing...

On top of that, TBS is a film whose characters (without exception) are despicable. The main character, Nina, for instance, could easily be described as a pathetic, anorexic, obsessive and psychologically weak young lady. Her mother is an abusive, bitter, has-been type of person. Nina's friend (if we may call her that...)is a dancer who smokes(a clear sign of the presence of the tobacco lobby in action) and do drugs, the choreographer, of course, is a sex addict that preys on the vulnerability of his young dancers, and the rest of the them, which are the other dancers, seem to be poised to stab each and everyone in the back so that they can get the most coveted part in the production. They are all very inspiring, I guess.

The end of TBS, of course, is very cliché (as is the whole film...) because, as expected, what matters in the end is the performance, the perfection of execution and all that stupid bla-bla-bla about winning and succeeding at any cost.

To spike the interest in and keep the attention of the male audience watching this "masterpiece" , the producers resorted to an old trick and introduced two gratuitous sex scenes (one of them depicting lesbian sex) in the film.

So, in the end we have a film with unpleasant characters, a weak script, and a story which could have been told in 15 minutes.

Well, it seems "Black Swan" is the perfect Oscar contender...
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roastmary-14 December 2010
I had a lot of fun watching the gorgeous Natalie Portman go through her pirouettes. A film that runs the gamut from "The Red Shoes" to "Repulsion" without reaching the heights of those masterpieces it manages to be an original opus from one of the most interesting directors of late. Darren Aronofsky's confidence is overwhelming. I regret I'll be dead and buried by the time Natalie Portman is 50 but I would give anything to see what this wonderful actress will be by that age. Here, she goes through the motions without avoiding any of the enormous difficulties her character requires. Vincent Cassel plays the French choreographer with a touch of Dhiagelev and oodles of sex appeal. Winona Ryder gives the film its campy touches, which makes the whole enterprise much more accessible than it seems at first. I enjoyed it very much even if I was aware of the effort to be seriously intellectual.
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pure swan crap
gmorgan-210 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to see this movie. All the critics were shouting about this one. One to see. Don't miss this movie. The movie of them year! Ouch! Was I taken in! It's a movie about some whacked out chick who literally tries to become the black swan in "Swan Lake". She is hallucinating most of the time. Can't get reality and the ballet right in her head. Oh my, oh my. The ending left me shaking my head. All this fuss about this silly little flick. I don't get it! Others will say that I am not "refined" enough to understand. But that is not true. The sad thing about it is that I do get it. I just don't understand all the fuss. It's just not a good movie. Jim Carrey and the SNL crew made a better short comedy about this. At least you could tell where they were coming from. lol This movie isn't good enough for adults and you can't take little girls to see it because it's full of X-rated material. Therefore what audience is it meant for? I'm sure it'll get lots of awards. The stupid artsy fartsy stuff like this, always does.
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