Brilliantly executed, The Black Swan is a dark and sinister movie that tackles fears, passions and psychological tendencies through the world of ballet. Natalie Portman plays her most successful role to date as Nina Sayers, a prop of the New York City Ballet. Her dedication is apparent from the start as are the idiosyncrasies of an industry that is both brutal and frustrating. Although determined, Nina is emotional and frail both in mind and body. Despite this she lands the leading roles in Swan Lake.
Directed by Darren Aronovsky, this film was assured to be confusing and you won’t be disappointed as mirror tricks, mind games and personality disorders have you feeling thoroughly confused yet excited. His exquisite directing skills tell the tale of Nina’s battle with her innocent self and the devilish counterpart who longs to break free. Her new role as both the black and white swan in Tchaikovsky’s ballet reflects this personal fight.
Enticed by sex, drugs and alcohol as well as succumbing to the bad influences of fellow production company ‘friend’ Lily, the film sees Nina explore her sensual side in order to rise to the challenge of the black swan. However her body and mind begin to unravel leaving all sanity behind. As she nears the opening night, she is forced to face Lily who fights for the leading role as well as tackling an irritating, scaly skin condition. Or so Aronovsky will have you think.
The pressure to succeed is addressed through both the physical effects that Nina endures, and the anxieties caused by strict dance rehearsals and incessant bullying. These ideas consume your mind and the uncertain nature of the film leaves you fearful for what may happen next.
Benjamin Millepied’s choreography is impeccable, as are the films costume designs. BAFTA-nominated designer Amy Westcott is the creator behind the feathery masterpieces which act as great signifiers of Nina’s transforming character as she makes the transition from innocent white swan, to its troubles black opposition.
The Black Swan is powerful, brutal and hauntingly scary but all the while completely enjoyable. A film that makes you question and interpret what you will of the plot. It is as unique as it is unforgettable.