Review – Black Swan

Sometimes you see a film and it knocks you out. Sometimes you see a film and it lets you down. Sometimes you see a film and it kidnaps you, holds you hostage, leaves you dangling over the edge of a cliff and then pushes you off into the abyss, welcome to ‘Black Swan’. ‘Black Swan’ is about a ballet dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) who lands the lead playing the swan queen in the ballet Swan Lake, but things take a dark turn when she is pushed to channel her inner black swan. Sounds pretty straight forward right? Wrong! Be prepared, this movie will hit you for six in so many wonderful ways.

‘Black Swan’ is brilliantly directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) who never once gets complacent or predictable with the way he carefully crafts each scene and builds a level of intensity that keeps you on edge. He films the ballet dancing in a raw uncompromising way and you really feel the physical and mental strain that ballet has on dancers, but at the same time the beauty of the art form shines through. Music plays a huge part in the film and Aronofsky cleverly uses the score of Swan Lake to great effect during some dramatic scenes. When things start to get crazy Aronofsky goes into overdrive producing some of the most intense sequences that would put most psychological thrillers and horror films to shame. He effectively uses clever lighting and mirrors to create a truly haunting and psychotic atmosphere. Darren Aronofsky is a fearless director; he is the raw nerve within the tooth of Hollywood.

The performances are fantastic with Natalie Portman at the centre of attention as Nina the ballerina on edge. Portman looks like a skeleton shedding a crazy amount of weight for the role as well as performing a majority of the dancing parts in the film, she is extraordinary. She is built like a ballerina on the outside but is still very much a child in her mind which makes it all the more tragic when her dark side emerges. The great thing about Portman’s performance is that she seamlessly drifts between the light and dark sides of her character. The one thing that sucks about the film is that critics seem to let Portman’s performance overshadow the great work of her co-stars, Mila Kunis sexes up the screen as a rival dancer and gets very intimate with Portman at one point, Vincent Cassel is perfectly cast as the oversexed company director who thrives on the power he has over his dancers, Winona Ryder is great as a washed up ballet dancer facing and early retirement and Barbara Hershey is the right amount of creepy as Nina’s mother channelling a bit of ‘Mommie Dearest’, just replace the coat hangers with nail clippers.

‘Black Swan’ is a rare film that treads the fine line between something beautiful and brutal. This not a film for everyone and even though I enjoyed it, I don’t think I could sit through it again because it gets very intense towards the end. Don’t be fooled, this is not a straight forward piece of drama, but a psychological horror/thriller. After pulling out most of my hair for the last 15 minutes of ‘Black Swan’ I’m now going to try and re-grow it…the bills in the mail Mr Aronofsky.

4.5/5

The Popcorn Junkie

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