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Black Swan (2010)

A 2010 psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky.

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Ballet: not for the psychologically unstable

  • Jan 31, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+5
Ballet is an interesting activity. When done right, it can be mesmerizing and impressive as hell. The physical demands placed on the dancers are enormous (I recall reading a book that described ballet dancers as all being “half-crazed with hunger”), and I can only imagine how heavy the psychological burden must be, especially if you’re not the most stable person in the world to begin with. That’s situation in which a young dancer (Natalie Portman), finds herself in Black Swan.

The movie tells the story of a New York ballet company’s production of Swan Lake. Never seen it performed? Me, either. Thankfully the movie tells you the story of ballet so you’re pretty well-prepared for what’s going on and the eventual overlap between the ballet’s story and the movie’s story.

Anyhow, Portman’s character really, really wants to dance the roles of the White Swan and the Black Swan. She eventually lands the role, but as she does her levels of stability begin to decrease dramatically. She starts hallucinating, scratches her back to the point of bleeding, begins interacting with another dancer who is everything she isn’t, deals with a very unstable mother who clearly wishes she was the one dancing the role, and has a crush on the ballet company’s director.

There’s a lot of psychological drama in this movie; a lot of times when you’re not sure if what you’re seeing is real or just happening in the main character’s mind. I like that in films, when it’s done well (it is here). It’s also fascinating from a technical aspect to watch the way color is used. The ballet world is one of heavy blacks and greys. Portman’s character’s bedroom is a place of white and pink. Her clothes start out white but by the end of the movie there’s a lot of black and grey in them.

And not enough can be said about Portman’s performance. She really is very good in a movie that demands quite a lot of her (she apparently spent 10 months training as a dancer to do the role). She does an excellent job of conveying the mental state of someone who isn’t really that well connected to reality, and she definitely earns every accolade she’s received.

This isn’t the best film of 2010, but I would put it in the lower-half of the top 10.

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February 07, 2011
Oooooh, I love psychological thrillers! I really need to make it to the theater to see this. Thanks for sharing!
 
January 31, 2011
Loved this movie; this was one of 2010's best for me. I think it hit the top 5 as I can remember. Thanks for the review, CR!
 
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More Black Swan (2010 film) reviews
review by . December 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ Stars: Dancing With One's Own Personal Reflections....
Last time Darren Aronofsky impressed me this much was with the film “The Wrestler”; it was a cinematic experience that was filled with a methodical approach, careful calculation, character-driven dualism and compelling drama. Yes, admittedly I was excited to see his latest film “Black Swan” and it wasn’t anything I expected it to be and yet it became so much more. This film is tense, taut, filled with dramatic and horrific logic that will stay with you after the end …
review by . December 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Darren Aronofsky has achieved the impossible: he's made ballet cool. Seriously, get rid of the Best Film award and introduce the Made Something Cool That Was Hitherto Completely Uncool award, and then kick Guy Ritchie squarely in the unspeakables for making Sherlock Holmes.      First, he threw out all that ballet shoe shit and went straight for the jugular, combining Heath Ledger's Joker with Tyler Durden from Fight Club to give us "holy crap it's Natalie Portman": …
review by . January 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I don't admit to being a big Darren Aronosfky fan.  I enjoyed Pi and Requiem for a Dream, but he never became a director that I thought was worth putting on my radar.  He makes intriguing films to be certain, but Black Swan was the first time I saw one of his films and felt blown away by it.  Like I'd just sat through something magical, simple and yet very complex at the same time.  It has its moments where it goes overboard, scenes that go to extremes that, for the most …
review by . January 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Haunted! HUNTED!
It’s no theatrical tricks but it certainly set the mood for the entire film. It’s seldom at first scene that I have an idea how to start a review, much less right at the very beginning of the show. Granted, I’ve read a couple of reviews here and there on this movie but I have managed to steer clear of knowing exactly what the movie entails. I know I don’t feel comfortable starting this movie, even though it has tempted me since I got hold of the dvd copy. I managed to steer …
review by . May 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I got this movie on DVD, which was good because even after you watch it, you need to go back and look at certain scenes again to try to determine if they were real or imagined. Portman is a profession ballet dancer vying for the starring role in a new version of Swan Lake in Lincoln Center. Portman is pushed forward by her domineering mother, who herself was a ballerina and keeps reminding Portman that she needed to retire at 28 to raise Portman.    Age is a continuing factor …
review by . April 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****       "Black Swan" is a paragon of psychological filmmaking; a wild melodrama, which was simply made for the sake of its own unique existence. The project was ambitious, and in some ways, I couldn't have seen it working. A film like this being this good just doesn't seem impossible, but then again, go ahead and try telling director Darren Aronofksy what's "impossible". I don't think that the man believes in the word. He's been making films for over …
review by . May 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
When i first saw the commericals for this movie it looked good, but then again its about ballet dancers....booooring right? WRONG! I was shocked and amazed at how much i liked this movie. It was enthralling, sexy, and at some points outright creepy. The movie starts off with Nina, a dancer in the new york ballet who is looking for her break into stardom after being out of the spotlight for several years with the company. When her boss announces that their current star will be retiring and he will …
review by . December 19, 2010
BLACK SWAN is the story of a ballerina driven to insanity by her drive to succeed and to be perfect. It's also one of the more purely fascinating movies of 2010. Natalie Portman gives the performance of her career as Nina, the dancer. Nina has been with the professional ballet company headed by Thomas (Vincent Cassel) for a number of years, and she's hoping this will be the year she gets a lead role. He's reviving SWAN LAKE, and needs a new White Swan/Black Swan. Nina is a technically proficient …
review by . March 16, 2011
Black Swan is a wonderful movie, although it is definitely not for everyone. I know I am also late jumping on this bandwagon, seeing as the Oscars are over, but I had to state my claim and wait for my mum's permission to watch it. But waiting was definitely worth it, because Black Swan is a terrific movie. Wonderfully acted, wonderfully directed, and wonderfully intense, if you were expecting an ordinary movie about ordinary ballerinas, then this isn't the movie for you. Instead, its …
review by . March 13, 2011
   Arnofsky's latest is a pretentious work, with little content. His sophistry stops at camera work, and the only real value of the film lays with Natalie Portman's acting - and the makeup artists.
About the reviewer
C R Swanson ()
   I'm an aspiring writer and reviewer. I run a blog, I'm working on a novel and spend my free time reading and playing video games. I also spend waaaaay too much time and money on movies. … more
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About this movie

Wiki

Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky. The film stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as ballet dancers in a New York City production of Swan Lake. The production requires a ballerina to play both the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan. Nina (Portman) fits for the White Swan, Lily (Kunis) fits for the Black Swan, and the two compete for the parts. Aronofsky and Portman first discussed the project in 2000, and after a brief attachment to Universal Pictures, Black Swan was produced in New York City in 2009 under Fox Searchlight Pictures. Notable figures from the ballet world helped with film production to shape the ballet presentation. The film is set to premiere as the opening film for the 67th Venice International Film Festival in September 2010. The film will have a limited release on December 1, 2010.

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Details

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: December 1st, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: Protozoa Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, Fox Searchlight
First to Review

"Aronofky's Swan Dive"
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