Out Now On-Demand
A psychological thriller from Darren Aronofsky (director of The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream). Follows the story of Nina (Natalie Portman in an Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning performance), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life is completely consumed with dance.
When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina takes centre stage. But there's competition: new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis). Swan Lake requires a dancer to play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role, but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As they expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina gets in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.
Winner for Best Actress (Natalie Portman) at the 2011 Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Golden Globes.
Drama, Thriller, Dance
Rating: R16 contains violence, sex scenes & content that may disturb.
Darren Aronofsky cements his place as one of the most exciting directors working in Hollywood, with this audacious psychological thriller. Using the closeted world of ballet as a stage for paranoia and delusion, Black Swan is a hallucinatory escapade into the repressed mind of a young dancer struggling to achieve artistic perfection.
Aronofsky continues his naturalistic verite camerawork from The Wrestler, although this time the world is nightmarish and off-kilter, aided by ominous sound design and a colour palette that largely sticks to black and white with the occasional touch of pink – note the frilly decorations and stuffed toys in Nina (Portman)’s childlike bedroom. The claustrophobic, tense experience cribs generously from early Polanski, especially the sexually-charged Repulsion.
As young ballerina Nina Sayers, Natalie Portman offers a career-best performance, portraying her character as a naïve and sheltered loser, unpopular amongst her catty peers and lacking in confidence. The entire film plays out through her eyes and we never leave her headspace – her confusion becomes ours. The supporting characters either attempt to subdue her sexual potential (Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey) or bait it (Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis).
Black Swan is a theatrical experience. Often thrillingly close to the ridiculous, Aronofsky wants us to buy into the fun. He’s not taking it too seriously. Climactic moments may induce nervous sniggering from audiences but such grandiose camp makes for a flamboyant and vivid contemporary classic.
Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)
Dominion Post (Graeme Tuckett)
New York Times
Total Film (UK)
No ugly duckling...
Darren Aronofsky, like Chris Nolan, is a great director. The woefully 'Fountain' pretentiousness 'The Fountain' aside, I loved 'Requiem for a Dream' and 'Pi.' 'Black Swan' runs as a kind of twisted evil twin to Powell and Pressburger's 'The Red Shoes' and cinephiles who know that movie will get oodles more from this psycho-ballet-noir. Dark and disturbinbg, beautifully performed and directed, this is like David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet' goes ballet. Gripping, haunting and oddly old fashioned - James Mason and Dirk Bogard wouldn't be out of place. Don't go if you don't like melodrama - you'll just find it's over-the-top histrionics and swan-fuelled hysteria a tad hard to swallow. But give yourself over to it and it's great...
Look at that, a whole 'Black Swan' review and I didn't even mention the pervy scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis... Oh! Wait a minute... Dowh!!!
Didn't know what to expect but WORTH IT
I'm telling you right now - If your one who doesn't like to see "into" a movie or behind the upfront intentions of what the director is showing you, you will HATE this movie.
The story behind the story drawing glimpses of her past and hints of her future are trully encaptivating. I loved it.
Very awesome and grand! beautiful dancing really. And very very beautiful story. Loved it!!!
This was a movie I definately wasn't expecting to be so deep. Quite horrific but VERY interesting to see something different for a change. Thought that Portman did an amaazing job in her role. Big thumbs up.
Didn't live up to the hype
Although the acting performances were brilliant I thought the storyline left something to be desired. There was little character development (the lead character starts off unlikeable and a little unhinged and gets more so in both regards) - I found it impossible to empathise with any of the characters.
The story was also fairly predictable - there were no big surprises - and I found the symbolism a bit "film school" - obvious and not very well developed.
Pretentious and blah
Self indulgent and tedious.
Natalie's acting was actually pretty good, and Mila was ok too. So what was the problem?
The movie does keep you watching... trying to figure out what how much is real and how much is in the poor girl's head.. but ultimately the movie is just plain unsatisfying.
At the end I was torn between "WTF?" and "I just don't care"
I had been gagging to see this film for months. Natalie Portman is one of my alltimefaves but, even though I knew what the story line was and had seen the trailer, I just couldn't engage with it.
Natalie and Mila Kunis were exceptional but Vincent Cassel seemed stiff, as if he was 'acting'.
I'm not sure if this was a case of high expectations not being satisfied but it left me feeling like I just needed something else.
Genuinely Creepy and Close to Perfect
It's a tribute to this film's quality that 2 months after its release it can still fill a medium size theatre at Rialto Newmarket on a Saturday night.
The Academy loves to give Oscars to actors who transform themselves for roles, and in Black Swan, Natalie Portman utterly transforms her body to become the ballerina whose drive for perfection almost kills her. Her performance beautifully channels Mia Farrow in ROSEMARY'S BABY and is exceptional.
She is supported by an excellent cast and a script that really knows both its genre (psychological thriller) and its world (elite ballet).
The direction too, is very, very strong. Aronosfky is making a specialty out of studying obsessed individuals in very specific worlds. And here he uses a lot of the techniques that he explored in THE WRESTLER - hand held observational camera work, total focus on the main character, grainy 16mm stock. But he ramps all that up spectacularly with both brilliant tension and some truly shocking visuals.
The domineering mother in the film brings to mind the domineering mother in de Palma's CARRIE. Living her life through her daughter, trying to repress her sexuality. And the creature transformations feel like a wink to Landis' AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. All wrapped up in the arch, sophisticated airs of the New York ballet.
This is a seriously good film, and is really a 4 and half star movie.
Film of the Year!!
Natalie Portman's star performance
The super-creepy special effects in this movie were awesome and I thought they perfectly emphasized Nina's deteriorating mental state. I especially liked the final performance, where Nina literally spreads her wings.
Natalie Portman has an amazing range, and I have mad respect for her portrayal of Nina. I knew ballet dancers like Nina in high-school - often they were sheltered and controlled by their stage-mothers, and were childishly innocent and naive, spoke in a whispers and were incapable of interacting with peers, boys and girls alike. By no means is this a ballerina stereotype, but I recognised in Natalie's performance some of the dancers I knew at school. Nina's character was pathetic and frustrating, and moments of redemption only seemed to come when she was in the midsts of her psychoses.
I thought Natalie had a really good handle on her character's type, and after seeing her in No Strings Attached (which is actually quite good), where she plays a character that is the complete opposite of Nina, I have decided she is one of my favourite actress. Her Oscar for Black Swan was well-deserved.
I have to admit, psychological thrillers are my personal favourite movie genre. Having said that, I don't feel biased at all in saying that is was actually pure genius!
The ballet side to the movie gives it an extra twist - you don't need to know anything about ballet to watch it either. There are many brilliant subtle hints and symbols that leave your mind boggling... and the musical score just makes it all the more thrilling! There were a couple of truly freaky moments, I almost couldn't watch! Highly recommended, Natalie Portman does a spectacular job - and I hope she puts all the weight back on that she lost for this role!!! :)