It is incredible to think that Darren Aranofsky has been making films for over a decade now. This young director's films, although not appealing to anyone with a passion for straight-up and to the point movies, have an immense power and diversity to them. His latest is no exception. The story seems to head in one direction to its 'obvious?' conclusion but the characters arc back and forth out of context to keep things interesting. These are well written characters that add flexibility to what could have felt more like a biopic piece. This is more pshycological horror than any other genre that can be bestowed on it. The film, artistically, is a dream; from the crisp, realistic cinematography to the fine, somewaht spooky detail in the costume and moody lighting. When Portman's character Nina breaks her toenail off you almost feel her pain such is the intensity of such an inoquios injury. The music playing its part, classically tweaked by Aranofsky's regular collaborater Clint Mansell. An incredible performance from Portman who rivals anything i have seen from an actress, especially one as young as she, for some time. She is backed up by strong performances from her mother and her dance teacher. Vincent Cassell is a treat in this, as is Barbera Hershey who has a somewhat over-bearing, creepy almost 'dodgy' relationship with Portman's Nina. It seeems churlish and unfair to compare this to The Wrestler and The Fountain, some may argue slightly better films, this is closer to his work on Requiem for a Dream in mood and reflection. I await more of Aranofsky's work in the not too distant future with eagerness...
If you're a movie buff, you'll be able to write a rough scrip of what happens in the rest of Black Swan within the first 30 mins of it starting - the signposting and storytelling lack subtlety and nuance. However, this can't necessarily be used as a criticism, as there are a great many excellent movies where you know how things will turn out long before getting anywhere near the credits. Taken at face value, Black Swan is a brilliant artistic achievement for both Aronofsky and Portman, and a surefire hit with the Academy. It makes up for any heavy-handedness with excellent art direction, sly use of CGI (altered faces, shimmering gooseflesh) and a cracked, fragile central performance by Natalie Portman. She has clearly trained very hard for this movie, and her physical appearance is indicative of Nina's strained, stretched grasp on reality. As her mind warps under the pressure of a new role, a smothering mother and long-held repressions, so too does her body start to split and fracture. It's not a new idea, but it is very well done here. If Portman isn't nominated for best actress then I will be very surprised. Witness her in the climactic scene as the Black Swan is exposed and be impressed, frightened and intimidated, a far cry from the timid creature she is during most of the movie. And contrary some critics' views, I think she is an excellent dancer.
This stunning, stimulating & artistic film brings 'thought provoking' to whole new level. It is the dark tale of a ballet dancer (Natalie Portman) whose troubled, failed dancer mother (Barbara Hershey), surveys and presides over her every move. The passionate, sexually violent choreographer (Vincent Cassel) guides the story with every vile action or calculatedly `kind' change of behavior.
Usually, I have little time for the horror-sci-fi genre (faces jumping out of walls et al) but in this movie, the effect work perfectly. Darren Aronofsky's production is visually and technically magnificent. An idea for a decade, the writers (incl. Mark Heyman `The Wrestler') are amazingly new to the world of screenwriting. Andres Heinz has a surprisingly barren IMDB entry. A name to watch.
Every viewer will have their own interpretation and opinion with regard to the films meaning and metaphor. I believe that the nightmares, visions and paranoia that Nina (Portman) experiences, are about the effect that the pressure of being a ballet dancer has upon the mind. A study in mental health. Sleep deprivation, bulimia & pressure to succeed are themes that bind the movie.
Portman has stated that she found the experience grueling and far harder than she expected. Thank you for a wonderful film is my response.
A friend of mine went to see this before me and told me that it was a very dark story and didn't have a happy ending, and she wasn't sure what to make of it. She didn't dislike the film but just said it wasn't what she expected.
Now I enjoy dark, psychological films so was more than happy to give this a try and do you know what, I quite enjoyed it! I've never seen a full ballet in my life but did enjoy what I saw in this film. The plot was dark, but nowhere near as dark as I thought it would be. I am a bit squeemish and had to look away at the gooey bits (but I am a lightweight on things like that and the friend I was with only winced a bit but kept on watching!). It was interesting to see Nina's decline, and I liked how the film allowed viewers to understand that this decline had started far earlier in Nina's life.
The self love and 'sex' scene were also not as explicit as I feared they would be, and did not bother me at all - whilst I do not like sex scenes for the sake of it, I did feel that these linked well with the plot and helped contribute to Nina's change into the black swan. However, I am not sure I could have watched this with my mother!!
The film was well acted, well written and beautifully shot - further, it is a refreshing change to have a major film that doesn't have a sunny, happy ending! It was dark, brooding and thoroughly enjoyable!
God, I hated this film. Every character is a cliche, whilst the plot - troubled/ sexually repressed dancer (Portman) with a weird mother pushes herself too far in the pursuit of perfection and develops mental issues as a result - is risible. 'All she needs is to chill out a bit and have a good shag and she'll be fine' is what it seems to be saying. Honestly. This is the sort of stuff an adolescent would write - sorry adolescents everywhere. By the end, when it appears Natalie Portman's somehow managed to perform an award winning White and Black Swan with a piece of mirror stuck in her stomach, i wanted to hurl my shoe at the TV. Godawful pretentious codswallop.
It is always a tall order for a film to live up to its hype, and The Black Swan is no exception. The story details Natalie Portman as a ballerina with high aspirations competing with her peers for the lead role of Odette and Odile, the White and Black Swans respectively, in Swan Lake. Portman's character is a naive young dancer with a sheltered upbringing by an overprotective single mother. At the outset the camera work is designed to create an aura of stress that Portman's character endures in the competitive and bitchy world of the ballerina. Under the stress of unexpectedly landing the lead role, a director demanding perfection and the competitive animosity and jealousy of other female cast members, she begins to crumble. Portman's character must master the dual role of Odette and Odile, and whilst she readily encompasses the White Swan, becoming the Black Swan challenges her natural character. The film is a rather disturbing tale of a psychologically fragile performer under great pressure. At times it is quite disturbing viewing, and deliberately ambiguous in nature; is her understudy really out to try to make her crack or is she just paranoid? As Portman's character becomes delusional she becomes an unreliable witness and we are not sure whether what she experiences is real or imagined. The film has some scenes where she discovers her sexuality, and although integral to the plotting, are not something you really want to watch with your mother! Portman's final slide into paranoid delusion did to me have something of a bad horror film quality to it, and in my view wasn't particularly well done, with an ending bordering on the silly. Don't expect a nice film about ballet. This is a dark psychological drama. An excellent performance by Natalie Portman, but a flawed film.