"Black Swan" (2011)

Rating: R:15
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Written By: Andres Heinz, Mark Heyman, John J. McLaughlin
Released: January 21st, 2011
Runtime: 108 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight

Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company's artistic director decides to replace his prima ballerina for their opening production of "Swan Lake," Nina is his first choice. She has competition in newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) however. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina's dark side begins to emerge.

One word comes to mind – wow.

This is a considerably complex but visually beautiful film. It’s hard to know what is really happening and what isn’t. This makes the film quite confusing. Eventually every scene is questioned. 

Ballet is shown to be an extremely stressful profession. It’s not as delicate and angelic as it is typically thought of. It is shown to be physically demanding, emotionally draining, competitive and aggressive. A lot of Nina’s particular struggles are likely brought upon circumstance. As she descends deeper and deeper into the role she is trying to play, deeper into psychosis things are not what they seem. She spends much of the film aiming for perfection and suffering terrible paranoia. These are most likely brought on by her controlling mother and sexually aggressive instructor. Having such stress coming at her from all angles it’s bound to get on top of her, and so it does in a big way. Natalie Portman is nothing short of amazing. 

I was surprised by how disturbing the whole film actually was. It covered some very heavy topics and some of the scenes were almost leaning towards a horror. With so many twists and turns, so many shocks, it’s impossible to look away. 

The cinematography creates a very disconcerting feel, as much of the time it moves with Nina’s movements, whether she is dancing or walking down the hall in her apartment. It makes the film feel more claustrophobic and we feel the chaos that she is feeling all the more. I loved it.

Intense, gruelling, tragic, gripping, surreal. A must see.