Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
The moment she broke her toe nail, it was on.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky (the same man who gave us The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream), Black Swan is a passionate, tension-filled suspense drama about a ballerina named Nina (Natalie Portman) who is chosen to play the much coveted lead in New York Ballet Company’s production, Swan Lake.
The role calls for not just a perfect portrayal of the innocent White Swan, but also the much more difficult Black Swan. Although Nina performs the White Swan part faultlessly, she needs more time to perfect the more demanding role — the Black Swan. But as she struggled to get lost in this dark character and receives unsolicited help from the sexually charged Lily (Mila Kunis), she discovers more about her own dark side.
Without a doubt, Natalie Portman nailed the role as if the film was made so she could have her first Academy Award. She was convincing as the innocent Nina, wanting to meet her mother’s expectations and proving she deserves the part. She was also able to successfully transition to the rebellious woman, who would do everything to keep the role.
But of course, the film is not all about Natalie Portman. Darren Aronofsky was able to build the tension in a way that it will never let you go minutes into the film. The moment Nina breaks her toe-nail after an emotionally painful pirouette, the heaviness of the film shoots up and there’s no coming down. It was actually a little difficult to watch because you get to feel for every character and you also get confused as to what is real and what is not. The film also succeeds in pouring sensuality and passion all over the film. It is intriguing, addictive, sexy. (Not that I enjoyed the hot lesbian action in it, but it was well-shot. Haha.)
Some elements are cliche, such as the overwhelming pink in Nina’s room. It was like spoon-feeding me that Nina likes pink and is therefore the innocent type. Even the mirror scenes, symbolic as they are, kind of feel redundant.
Black Swan is an effective thriller. Nevertheless, it would also be interesting to see how it would turn out had Aronofsky steered away from psychological suspense and instead make it a subtle psychological drama. The relationship between Nina and her mother demands more screen time. Their chemistry is phenomenal and their scenes together are much more intense than the whole stage and backstage sequence towards the end of the film.
But regardless of what it could have been, Black Swan is a fine film as is. The film draws the audience into the paranoid, obsessed psyche of a ballerina who has a lot to prove to everyone and to herself. And whether the character successfully becomes the Black Swan or not, Natalie Portman has just become the actress to beat with her performance in this film. 3.8