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This review is from: Black Swan (DVD + Digital Copy) (2010) (DVD)
Natalie Portman is magnificent in Black Swan, a rich nuanced performance that is riveting to watch - and she is in virtually every scene. Well worthy of her Oscar.
Unfortunately the film isn't as good as it's central performance. The plot charts Portmans characters (Nina) decent into madness as she prepares to dance the lead roles; White and Black Swan, in a production of Swan Lake. In plotting her breakdown, particularly the scenes in the flat Nina shares with her controlling mother, it's is reminiscent of Polanskis Repulsion . Similarly it's not a film for the fainthearted or the prudish, with a far bit of blood and a dash of lesbian sex.
Nina is under the direction of the ballet master who urges her to find the Black Swan within her, and the attentions of another dancer Lily (Mila Kunis). Lilly is the sensual dark foil to Nina's controlled and repressed character. The themes, sensuality versus repression, how far someone will push themselves to attain perfection, are a little over familiar, but reasonably well handled.
However, as the film progresses and Nina slips further into madness, she starts to hallucinate. The viewer is given no hint by the director about what is real and what is not and as this is used more and more it becomes hard to care about the events unfolding. Things become more and more extreme to the point where I found it hard to take it entirely seriously. While the ending is frankly a bit rubbish.
Aronofsky delivers his usual visual flair, and the dancing is well filmed (though I'm no ballet aficionado) but in the end it's all a little too over the top to be as moving as I think it hopes to be. But worth it just for Portmans performance.