Reviews

Black Swan

4

It’s The Blood-Red Shoes….

Black Swan review

Virginal ballet dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) wins the lead in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

But she might just lose it again if she can’t find a way to offset her technically perfect White Swan with a Black Swan that breathes sex, bile and chaos in big, ragged gulps.

Pirouetting about Nina are people who help, hinder and ultimately unhinge her – though a little lunacy might be just what she needs right now.

Artistic director Vincent Cassel hectors and (sexually) harasses. New arrival Mila Kunis offers booze, ecstasy and her tattooed body. Protective mom Barbara Hershey turns into a screeching harridan when her baby flies the nest. And a woman who is Nina’s mirror-image haunts the edges of the frame.

Set in a cloistered world full of pitter-patter feet and stomping egos, Darren Aronofsky’s fifth feature starts off hysterical and raises the barre from there, fusing genres (psychodrama, horror, backstage musical) and masterpieces (The Red Shoes, All About Eve, Suspiria, pretty much all of Polanski’s early work) with spirited, nay, reckless aplomb.

So while Matthew Libatique’s sublimely mobile photography exhibits the grit and grain of The Wrestler as much as the sheen and shimmer of The Fountain (the twinning of Aronofsky’s oppositional styles offering a subtle extension of the doppelganger theme that is elsewhere thumped home), Black Swan has little truck with reality.

It is, instead, a crazed monument to cinema. Nina might be granted recognisably human foibles – hopes, dreams, fears, frailties; all of them startlingly realised by a never-better Portman – but her mental disintegration is, primarily, a plot device: the shards of her sanity twinkle brilliantly while never cutting to viewers’ hearts like the soft eyes of Mickey Rourke’s Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson.

Rather, Aronofsky plunges all of his energies into creating a palace of mirrors haunted by doubles and allusions, an edifice/artifice as elegant and vulgar as anything created by De Palma.

Black Swan is a film obsessed with movement, colours, sets, sound design, Clint Mansell’s clanging score and, of course, performance, this last allowing Aronofsky to indulge in a little self-reflection by poring over the artistic process. Here, the scintillating style becomes part of the content.

It still doesn’t mean you’ll care, perhaps, but you’ll sure as hell be exhilarated.
 

Verdict:

The most toxic, rapturous, melodramatic, operatic movie about a mentally disintegrating ballerina you’ll see all year… And featuring some of the best dance sequences ever.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Legacy3D

      Jan 17th 2011, 6:29

      5

      Having heard so much about this movie and seeing that it was in the running for some golden globes (Which it won best drama) i did not know what to expect as a film about ballet did not apeal to me. However as said before plus being directered by Darren Aronofsky (the wrestler in 2008) this seem worth watching. The movie takes place in New York City where Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a dancer trying to become the swan queen after Beth MacIntyre ( Winona Ryder) leaves in the production of swan lake. Nina still lives with her mother a former dancer. After casting Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) the director chooses nina for the role of the white swan but dounts she can play the black swan as she lacks something which Lily (Mila Kunis) has. During the course of the movie nina trys to become the black swan in order to get the part but things begin to happen to her including Visual Hallucinations and strange symptoms. Some of which leader her to belive lily is trying to take her spot as the swan queen. This movie could not be classed into one genre as it contains elements which really make you think but there is also large elements of very disturbing scenes and stuff which is really shocking and scary. Saying this makes be know that some are not going to like this movie. But i really enjoyed it in a different way as it has characters you really cared about what was going to happen to them, and a great storyline which kept you watching dispite some disturbing stuff. I would really recomened this movie but i understand its not for everyone.

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    • Legacy3D

      Jan 17th 2011, 17:18

      5

      Having heard so much about this movie and seeing that it was in the running for some golden globes (Which it won best drama) i did not know what to expect as a film about ballet did not appeal to me, however being directed by Darren Aronofsky (the wrestler in 2008) this seem worth watching. The movie takes place in New York City where Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a dancer trying to become the swan queen after Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder) leaves in the production of Swan Lake. Nina still lives with her mother a former dancer. After casting Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) the director chooses Nina for the role of the white swan but doubts she can play the black swan as she lacks something which Lily (Mila Kunis) has. During the course of the movie Nina try’s to become the black swan in order to get the part but things begin to happen to her including Visual Hallucinations and strange symptoms, some of which lead she to believe Lily is trying to take her spot as the swan queen. This movie could not be classed into one genre as it contains elements which really make you think but there is also large elements of very disturbing scenes and stuff which is really shocking and scary. Saying this makes be known that some are not going to like this movie. But i really enjoyed it in a different way as it has characters you really cared about what was going to happen to them, and a great storyline which kept you watching despite some disturbing stuff. I would really recommend this movie but i understand it’s not for everyone.

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    • strongbow21

      Jan 24th 2011, 20:25

      1

      This film is by far the biggest load of s**t I have seen in years. There is no storyline and there is no point to the film. It's shocking in as much as mila kunis going down on natalie portman and natalie portman frigging herself in bed while her mother is asleep in the same room. It's almost laughable that this is considered for any award. The only saving grace of this film is portmans performance which is very good, but the movie is awful in every sense of the word. I spent the whole film thinking "at some point something is going to happen soon", but it never does.

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    • Ghedebrav

      Jan 25th 2011, 21:41

      3

      For me, it's a noble failure. Check out my review: http://multiplexs**t.blogspot.com/2011/01/film-7-black-swan.html

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    • joeymac

      Feb 3rd 2011, 18:14

      4

      I avoided seeing and reading anything about this before watching it, and thought it was great. I totally understand why it might not float everyone's boat, but it's just crazy to batter this film. I simply can't see any justification for the vehement hatred on display in strongbow21's summary. I mean, come on. Have you seen Skyline?

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    • BruceShark

      Feb 7th 2011, 22:05

      1

      'Give me a Oscar. Please. I'll do anything. I'll even make a film about ballet just to show that I'm cultural and high-brow. I'll make this turgid piece of Art House c**p that people will say they like so they can seem intelligent to there friends when really they'll have no idea what's going on because I haven't got a clue what it's about. I'll just make it up as i go along but I'll shoot it like a Dario Argento film and then all the buffs can discusses how i'm influenced by european cinema. I'll get my main star to lose weight, that's a Oscar winner for shore. I'll have her lezzing up, because that shows really commiment to her art, plus it'll get teenage ladss coming in to see those bits so it'll seem like lots of people want to watch it. When really they could stay at home and watch the ten minute freeview bit on TV X and get a better story line, and lezzing up. Please please please give me an Oscar. After all you ignored my film The Wrestler, which actually was a good film and made sense.' DA

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    • vicky13

      Feb 18th 2011, 14:19

      5

      Black Swan is a brilliant film - beautifully shot and superbly acted. Portman and Hershey are especially good. BruceShark above seems to have some serious anger issues - I'm not sure why he feels so vitriolic about the film. Even if it isn't your cup of tea, surely anyone can see it is, in many ways, a masterclass of cinema. Maybe Bruce's anger is really concerning his own illiteracy? Hmmmm....

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    • glegs

      Apr 10th 2011, 1:42

      5

      Very good film.

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