‘Black Swan’ Movie Review from Cinema Static

by on February 7, 2011

in Entertainment, movie reviews

'Black Swan' movie poster - snippet

Black Swan is a movie that will put you deep into the mental processes of a ballet dancer whose dedication to her art goes beyond the call of her next job. It’s an incredible character journey to say the least.

This movie review is as spoiler free as I can make it, so fret not.

Black Swan stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey in a drama directed by the incredible Darren Aronofsky (The Fighter, The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream). The screenplay was written by Mark Heyman (The Wrestler‘s co-producer), Andrés Heinz & John McLaughlin.

'Black Swan' movie poster

Ms. Portman plays Nina Sayers, an extremely dedicated ballet dancer who gets the lead role in Swan Lake, which is a huge break for her career. This role will prove to be a struggle for her to portray, because part of the character is the antithesis of what she is all about. Nina herself is such a perfectionist with the innocence of a child riddled with insecurities. This is due to her sheltered upbringing by an extremely overbearing mother. She plays the white swan side of her new role to perfection and like every other aspect in her life, she strives to embrace and hone this evil side as perfectly as she can also. However, the role of the black swan clashes harshly with Nina emotionally, and her obsession to embrace this side of the role eventually pushes her beyond the brink of mental stability.

Ms. Kunis plays Lily, a new dancer who joins the ballet troupe. Nina sees that she has certain edginess, that dangerous kind of attitude that tosses caution to the wind. These are the characteristic that would make a person the right fit for the lead role in Swan Lake.

Mr. Cassel plays Thomas Leroy, the director of the play. He is an intense man who steps over questionable boundaries to get his dancers to break out of their molds and into their characters. When he is on the screen, he is a powerful presence who dominates the scene with his commanding director

Ms. Hershey plays Nina’s mother, Erica Sayers. Erica is a mother who obsesses so much over her daughter’s success and health that she smothers Nina way beyond where most parents dare to go. Erica is a person who doesn’t seem to want to let go of her little girl, which has definitely been to detrimental of Nina.

Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan'

When the movie starts, we’re introduced to Nina and learn of her complete dedication to the ballet. We’re taught some of the small subtleties on what she focuses on and deals with for her career, like caring for her body, her equipment, and her aspirations and perceptions that she goes through while she’s practicing with her dance troupe.

The movie was filmed in almost all close-up photography, focusing mostly on the character at hand so there is nothing else to distract from that person. Everything they say and do is your primary focus. Words, inflections, nuances are no longer something that can be ignored, or missed.

Nina was a confusing character. Her own personality traits of insecurities were a distracting turn-off for me. Yet these characteristics were an integral part of what drives her inner journey to embracing her role in the ballet.

Her director pushes her and though she needs to embrace a certain, dangerous looseness to perfect her role, her sheltered, oppressed need to be perfect is an emotional clash that pushes to and beyond the brink of mental stability.

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Mr. Aronofsky keeps the viewer off balanced with his approach to the story. Nina becomes so obsessive she gets delusional and we’re kept in the dark as to when we’re being treated to the real world and her delusional world.

Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan'

In the end, Nina fully achieves what she needs to pull off the role, but it’s how she gets there and the end result that is the journey that the movie-goer experiences.

It’s a powerful journey into the darkness of striving for perfection that Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey make. I came away from this movie exhausted. Exhausted from the experience and journey I was taken through.

Mr. Darren Aronofsky has shown me yet again the inner parts of a struggling soul. He nails it when he approaches the gritty reality of the human struggle that we make of our lives. After The Wrestler, and now this, Black Swan, he’s made an appreciative fan who is motivated to have a Aronofsky party nite and check out all his movies in a single night and hope I can handle it!

Thank you to everyone from the creative team to the cast for showing me what the darkness of the human struggle at times and just how good I have it in life.

Black Swan Movie Trailer:

Thanks for checking out my humble movie review on this wonderful film.

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