Intense. Very Intense. Intensity comes from Natalie Portman’s incredible performance but also from how Daren Aronofsky plays with viewers while telling an unusual story about … what? Believe that each of us will have a different version but basics are quite simple: how a subdued young woman becomes the prima ballerina and delivers a perfect first performance. That’s what film story is all about but HOW is told is what makes the film, the story and the amazing performances so intense as well as quite unpredictable even when I started to guess right at one moment but still had my doubts. Just loved how film slowly grabbed my attention to completely hold it until the very last credit where I was still quiet, tense and feeling all kind of emotions. Bravo!!!
Wish so much to tell my version but know that will spoil the movie for many, so I better keep it to myself until all of us have watched and then we have to talk about this unbelievable good movie. But will share that I believe this story could only be told if related to ballet. If you love ballet and if you know Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, then I assume it will be easy for you to understand the pressure that a ballerina feels when she is about to become the company’s prima ballerina and have her first ever performance, especially when having to perform classic Swan Lake. Just to think about this in any situation makes me feel the intensity of the process and think about the thin line between sanity and insanity, success and failure, life and death. That’s the essence of what I saw in this movie that absolutely blew my mind, made me drop my jaw, feel all kind of contradictory emotions and had my eyes completely glued to the screen. Yes will watch again and probably again this film as I’m sure will see more twists thanks to Aronofsky’s amazing storytelling technique.
Of course have to talk about Natalie Portman. Absolutely impressive transformation from the White Swan (in the character’s life and in the ballet) into the Black Swan with the outstanding climax when the Black Swan dances. Wow! Still feel chills just thinking about that scene. No, I’m not talking only about when Portman dances -where camera concentrates basically from waist above (sorry, but I did notice it)- I’m talking about the complete character transformation in front of your eyes and HOW credible transformation is. The most outstanding performance by Natalie Portman I have ever seen and unless she finds great roles in the future, this could be her best ever. Yes, she has to get the Oscar nomination and she has to win it, truly deserves highest recognition for creating such a believable and intense character.
By the way I strongly believe that film doesn’t belong to the lesbian interest genre even when there is a sex scene; to me the sex scene is a crucial consequence to what Nina (Portman) lived at home with her severe/possessive/frustrated/obsessive mother (Barbara Hershey) as she was attracted to Lily (Mila Kunis) since the subway –before meeting her-, then Lily became her fixation, her mirror image and the Black Swan she so strongly needed to liberate. So, if you wish to watch film because the sex scene either you will be disappointed with story or you will be surprised by the amazing story; still will check the label for classification purposes.
But Portman is not the only excellent performer in the film as just love how Vincent Cassel becomes Thomas Leroy, he’s so chameleonic that absolutely becomes a despicable and likeable company’s artistic director. Barbara Hershey created a very dislikable character with such intensity that becomes unbearable to think that many must have mothers like this character. Mila Kunis created the perfect Black Swan representing guile and sensuality, while Winona Ryder had a too-small role as the Dying Swan -or the forced to retire prima ballerina- but was performed quite well.
Production values are excellent with some breathtaking dramatic scenarios –and some visual effects- that absolutely makes easy to understand what production design is and how contributes to storytelling in filmmaking. But all that I’ve been praising will not be like it is without a filmmaker that so effectively controlled a story, performances and a movie that easily could have lost its way to become a mess. Big Chapeau to Mr. Aronofsky for daring to tell the story the way he did, extracting the amazing performances from his actors, and creating a very impressive, unforgettable, and remarkable movie.
I love the movie but even when decided to not read a thing before writing, I know that many will not like it and will question all the fuzz around and about the film. I believe that this is a movie of extremes, either you love it or you don’t. Highly recommend the film to those that love ballet and are not looking to see ballet in the movie, but I do believe that your ballet knowledge will give you better insights into this fascinating –yet terrifying- story.
I really love this movie.
Watch trailer @MOC