'Black Swan' Review

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is a dark journey through the world of ballet. It is a look into the mind of a dancer obsessed with perfection and how far she will break her body and her psyche in order to achieve the dichotomy that is the Swan.


Ballerina Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, is up for the role of Swan Queen in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake but her natural character is more of the white swan than its dark twin. Nonetheless, she convinces the company’s artistic director, Thomas Leroy, that she can “let go” and achieve “transcendence” through one uncharacteristic act of biting his lip in a seductive manner.


However, the winning of the role unlocks a world of both physical and psychological pressure that Nina may not be able to endure. As a new rival, Lily (played by Mila Kunis), inches closer to her, she becomes even more fearful and obsessed over the essential transformation into a more sexually released individual she must accomplish for the role. This fear of failure and loss gets amplified by Aronofsky's direction style. We follow Nina in dark alleys, hallways, subways and rehearsal rooms. We watch as mirror images of her begin to become distorted and seemingly come to life. We also observe as black feathers develop from a cut on Nina’s back.


Portman’s portrayal of the sexually repressed Nina’s transformation into the seductive, alluring and dangerous Black Swan is exquisite. She pulls from deep inside for the emotional pain, while also inflicting the physical agony of a ballerina’s life upon her outer exterior. Portman reportedly lost 20 pounds for the role and danced for the majority of the scenes, except the most complicated.


The film has some spots of predictability, but the photography and camera work is stunning. Moreover, the hard work has definitely paid off for the Portman as an Oscar nod is sure to be in her future. The character Nina tells Thomas in a scene that her goal is "perfection," and Natalie Portman’s performance in Black Swan is the personification of perfection.


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