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Blu-ray Review: Black Swan

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Black Swan is a psychological thriller from filmmaker Darren Aronofsky and stars Natalie Portman. Nina Sayers (Portman) is a ballerina obsessed with perfecting her craft; her company’s next show will be Swan Lake.  Nina desperately wants the role of Odette—the white swan/black swan; and her director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) would give her the role if he were only casting the white swan, but he has concerns that Nina is too pure and can’t embody what’s necessary to play the black swan.

After Nina shows Thomas she can do both roles he casts her as the lead; as Nina lets her baser desires out, her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), tries to stop Nina from “destroying herself,” believing that her daughter can’t handle the darkness. Throw in Nina’s understudy Lily (Mila Kunis), who already seems to be the embodiment of the black swan and seems to be out for her role, and the lines between reality and fantasy/madness are quickly blurred. The film does a great job of making you question what you just saw on screen and will warrant multiple viewings to catch all the nuances.

Portman and Aronofsky first started talking about making this movie back in 2000 and it was well worth the wait. Portman won the Oscar for her role and rightfully so, she does such an amazing job of playing the pure girl who starts to embrace the darker aspects of life and gets so caught up in it; plus the dancing she does is a sight to behold. Barbara Hershey plays the overbearing stage mother and failed ballerina who’s living vicariously through her daughter so believably I couldn’t fathom having to deal with someone like that; and Mila Kunis impressively plays the bad girl.

Black Swan is 1080p/AVC-encoded and looks visually impressive; the movie looks excellent. The blacks and whites of the various outfits on stage look crisp and well defined and never wash the actors out. The brilliance of the strobe effects while during certain club scenes are also dazzling.  

The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix is also very impressive. The music is a very integral part of the film; yet it never overpowers the dialogue, nor interferes with it. You can understand each actor’s lines, and can distinguish each of them.

The extras for Black Swan include:

“Black Swan Metamorphosis” this three part making-of documentary runs close to 50 minutes and examines the films from many perspectives and includes interviews with most of the cast and crew as well as how the film was shot, lit and contains some great behind-the-scenes footage.

“Ballet” this quick (under three minutes) feautrette looks at Swan Lake; the dancing in the movie and includes snippets of interviews with Portman,  Aranofsky, Cassel and Kunis.

“Production Design” here the spotlight shines on production designer Therese DePrez and Aranofsky discusses how design has influence on a story.

“Profile: Natalie Portman” the actress talks about her character and how she prepared for eight years for this role.

“Profile: Darren Aronofsky” like the previous profile, the director talks about the origins of the story and his decision of how to shoot the film the way he did.

“Conversation: Preparing for the Role” and “Conversation: Dancing with the Camera” are two brief conversations with Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky, as the name indicates the first conversation is how Portman prepared for the role, while the second talks about the dance scenes filmed.

There are four “Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character” these segments all feature the actors in character discussing their roles. The four actors are Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey and Vincent Cassel.

“Fox Movie Channel Presents: Direct Effect, Darren Aronofsky” here the director talks about the qualities a good director needs, as well as a brief overview of the film.

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