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Black Swan (2010)

A 2010 psychological thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky.

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"The only one standing in your way is you."

  • Apr 16, 2011
**** 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 a decade, yet he hasn't made a bad one; each one ambitious and each one getting mixed reactions from the audience, but those are all signs of a brilliant film from a brilliant filmmaker.

Like a bastard love child of "The Red Shoes" and "Repulsion", both films which served as great story-telling inspiration for this one, "Black Swan" is a classic film. Or at least someday it will be. Everything here is perfectly staged, with the film feeling consistently moody and dreadful, as well as the actors/actresses giving each role their all. There's something special here, something that will seldom be put into a film. It may never be put into a film ever again, if only because "Black Swan" truly is one-of-a-kind, as far as the phrase goes.

The story begins with a dedicated dancer who obsesses over what she thinks is her profession. The dancer, or ballerina, is Nina; who seems to have problems, psychologically, from the moment that we meet her. She lives with her mother, and is preparing for her Dancing Company's production of Swan Lake. She is to play the White Swan, although she would much rather play the Black Swan, if only for the character's intriguing sense of evil and darkness.

Enter a beautiful and seductive new woman into the company, Lily, who seems to grasp the role of the Black Swan like a natural. What Lily brings with her into the company goes beyond jealousy, hatred, and whimsy from Nina's side; but also sexual tension. Lily is not a nice girl, and she consistently tries to push Nina to the edge, and perhaps even off it.

The film jumps from one hallucinogenic going-on to another. Nina's hallucinations and psychological sensory attacks interfere with her love for Ballet, as well as her relationship with her instructor. Nina's psychological duel with her inner self is seductive and rather brilliant; all leading up to a finale that can only be summarized by the word "whimsical".

Natalie Portman took a risky role when she signed up to play Nina, and she made an even riskier move my carrying out her performance. But she does it; she really does. Somehow, the "sweet little good girl" that we all once knew and loved it transformed into a complex, daring actress worthy of much praise. This is a good thing in the sense that her performance is pitch-perfect, and a bad thing in the sense that now Hollywood will want Portman, for all their crappy potboilers, more than ever. But then there's Mila Kunis, as Lily, who is truly beautiful and darkly seductive. Kunis has never been in a better role, and neither has the third major performer, Vincent Cassel; who has had more than his share of daring roles (*cough* "Irreversible"*cough*). This film is flawlessly cast, and that's all I really have to say to that.

Aronofsky must have a sort of admiration for ending his films in the most beautifully intense ways. He has ended his films on a right note; whether it leaves you feeling good or, quite frankly, just down-right shitty. "Black Swan" is yet another great movie from the filmmaker, and this furthermore proves that he is a master of deception and psychological intruigue. The imagery in this film is hard to forget, and the tone remains consistent throughout. It's an entertaining, beautifully directed, and lovingly conceived film that grabs you by the hair and rips the scalp right off. Like Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream", we are treated to a primarily disturbing downfall of a character; who slowly descends into some sort of hell. But then again, that is a whole other film, and so are any of Aronofsky's other films. This is something completely different, and the director has nailed it. Aronofsky wanted his audience to "feel" the film. Did I feel anything? Yes, I did. What I felt was pure, unabashed awe; without disguise or without restraint. Completely wild, beautiful, and disturbing. This film could not have been made any other way.

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April 18, 2011
Another good one, great review.
April 17, 2011
One of my favorite films of 2010--"...wild, beautiful and disturbing". excellently put! Seen "Perfect Blue"?
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 31, 2011
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 …
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 . 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 . September 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Aronofky's Swan Dive
BLACK SWAN   Written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin   Directed by Darren Aronofsky   Starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder      Thomas Leroy: Perfection is not just about control.  It is also about letting go.      From my understanding, to be a true ballerina, one must always strive for perfection.  Your toes, your torso, your lines must be just so.  …
review by . December 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The beginning of the movie, is the movie. It tells the whole story of what is to come the rest of the way. Unlike the movie it takes place while our main character is asleep so we know that this isn't happening, the rest of the way the audience can never be sure what in the movie is real and what is not. From there we dip in and out of the mind of Darren Aronofsky as he places Natalie Portman in prime position to win an Oscar.      SYNOPSIS      Portman …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


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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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
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"Aronofky's Swan Dive"
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