I Saw A Film Today… Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky films have never been weighed down with what is considered conventional. Whether it’s the story of how drugs affect a group of young people in Requiem For A Dream  or the story of an aging Randy “The Ram” in The Wrestler, Aronofsky doesn’t shy away from being different. And in this case, being different is good. This time around he tackles the cut-throat world of ballet dancing  in the cerebral Black Swan.

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A New York Ballet company has announced a new season of performances and first on the list is an “updated” performance of the classic Swan Lake. Yearning for the part of Swan Queen is Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a young dancer who has been with the company for a few years. Also desiring the same role are other young dancers, including a newcomer from California named Lily (Mila Kunis).

The company’s director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) thinks Nina is a perfect fit for the White Swan. But her frigid dancing style makes her less adapt for the role of  Black Swan, unlike Lily. Despite his reservations, Thomas cast Nina in the lead role.

With the opening night of the show approaching fast, Nina practices her dancing obsessively. It becomes clear that Nina has some very apparent psychological issues during this course to opening night, and her domineering mother (Barbara Hershey) is not helping subdue them. She may in fact be making them worse. When opening night finally comes, will Nina be able perform or will her demons get the best of her?

This film is a dark and horrifying trip into a young woman’s broken mind.  The hallucinations Nina has makes you cringe at times, like when she imagines pulling feathers out of her own skin. It takes a truly talented actress to pull off such a difficult role but Natalie Portman does so and makes it seem effortless.

Mila Kunis is the perfect contrast to Portman’s character. Her care-free and sensual attitude is a direct opposite to Nina’s almost obsessive compulsive nature.

The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Barbara Hershey has a terrifying presence. Think of the mother from Carrie only in a more claustrophobic setting. And Vincent Cassel is great as the creepy director, one of the voices whispering into Nina’s already confused and scattered head.

This film is one of Aronofsky’s best works to date. While there are many parallels to his previous film The Wrestler, this is different. This is a horrific tale of a young womans destructive drive to perfection. If you think this film is anything other than this and plan on taking someone young to see it, I would suggest you take a moment to reconsider. But if you are older and don’t mind being a little creeped out then I think you should see this film, definitely one of the best of 2010.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Have you seen Black Swan? Leave your comments and opinions below.

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