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December 3, 2010

Review: Black Swan

— Posted by Rodney

Thanks for checking out our Black Swan Review

Genre: Drama
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Staring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis,
Released: December 3rd,2010


Black Swan follows the story of Nina (Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her retired ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who zealously supports her daughter’s professional ambition. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.


Portman just owns the screen in this film. Her role as the lead ballerina illustrates every inch of stressful depth these ballerinas go through to earn a coveted lead role in their company. Everything from her professional drive as a dancer, her self doubt, and the toll this all takes on her soul is evident in every scene. And outside of the dancing the whole hockey-mom (dancer mom? stage mom?) synergy is present too while she strains to have a real relationship with her mother who is also driving her into her career.

I did enjoy Mila Kunis as well. Probably because I wasn’t expecting much out of her since most of her roles tend to be very light and fluffy without much depth. Kunis holds her own here.

The dancing is beautiful. Too often in these movies we get fantastic actors and we have to forgive the less-than-perfect performances from these non-athletes. Or we get athletes who cannot act. Portman really deserves some props considering how amazing she looks after only one year of intense dance. I am sure a hundred takes on the camea didn’t hurt anything, but still. Impressive.

And Aronofsky has dished out another helping of heavy passionate impacting cinema. You are so sucked into how real and emotional everything is that when Nina starts to lose her mind, it really impacts just how messed up she is. The contrast is a delicate one to balance without going from too dry to too loopy, and Aronofsky does it with relative ease.


This might have elements that are too much for some people to enjoy. There is layer upon layer of metaphors and symbolism that tear through this movie and so much of it may go unnoticed or overwhelm.


Staggering impacting movie with depth that will stick with you long after you leave the theater. I quite expect to see at least an Oscar nomination for Portman for her role in this. Amazing work.

On a side note, it is also interesting to watch this movie and in the back of your head thinking “This guy is directing The Wovlerine?” Now that I am curious as hell to see.

I give Black Swan a 9 out of 10

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  • Morganna

    Let’s not forget to give props to the stunt dancers that actually did all the dancing that Miss Portman couldn’t have possibly been able to learn in a year. It takes more than one year to learn ballet; she was just the face-the real dancer is a Miss Sarah Lane.

    Not to put down Miss Portman, I absolutely adore here, I just felt like pointing out that there were actual ballerinas to do the parts of the dancing no one but a pro could do. That being said, I loved the films ending-the dramatic scene where Nina finally transforms into the Black swan and the score-Tchaikovsky will always have a place in my heart-made sitting through all the metaphors and heavy sexual scenes worth it.

    That is to say, this is all my opinion, so please don’t take it the wrong way! :)

  • Required: Name

    this show is shit! all it do is promote suicide…. blasted idiot movie d only thing is that natalie acted her part well fuck everything else kmt dumb ass movie!

  • rachels

    Black swan is a fantastic movie! The symbolism in that film is very well done. But the problem is that there are some scenes that don’t concur with the story. Appart from that, the mixture of suspense and drama play an important role that make that film one of the best in that year.

  • Anonymous

    Black Swan is definately an uncultured movie. It shows the darkest sides of human morality and integrity. The entire movie has a dark ungodly-feeling towards it and has the ability to affect the state of mind of our times. i only see these types of movies as a trigger to rape, inhuman acts, and all other forms that is stems from evil. I had to stop jump over certain scenes and eventually stopped watching half-way through as I could see no good in this movie and only a feeling of nauseaousness in my stomach.

  • JustinD

    In many 20th century films, unique visual and emotional depth is hard to find. Black Swan is a story encompassing artistic passion, devotion, thrill, and darkness. Nina played by Natalie Portman devotes herself and talent in ballet to the production of Swan Lake to achieve the perfection she’s strived for her entire life. While the qualities that Nina embodies are one of a true artist her passion is conflicted with psychological and mental issues that add a dark edge to the film.

    Nina works hard through auditions and is asked to become the Black Swan in Swan Lake after a sexual scene with the director, Thomas, played by Vincent Cassel. Thomas constantly tells Nina that she embodies the white swan perfectly but still isn’t showing him the dark side in the black swan that he demands. As the film progresses, Nina transforms from a good girl to a bad girl after much influence from a new ballerina in the company named Lily played by Mila Kunis. It is evident that Lily is trying to steal Nina’s role in the production and this paranoia is what drives Nina crazy. This dark tone that Lily embodies is what defines the film making it a dark thriller. It is after meeting Lily that Nina begins to experience changes with her body as she is transforming into the Black Swan. The director, Daren Aronofsky does a particularly good job at evoking this dark tone in the film. He makes use of sound, VFX and camera movements in an appropriate way. There are scenes in which Nina rips the skin off her fingers. The screeching sound design and sudden camera movements evoked an uncomfortable feeling in the audience.

    Nina grows up within her small home with a mother that is clearly jealous of her daughter’s success. Early in the film it becomes evident that her mother had to give up her ballet career to have Nina. This jealousy is reflected through her actions and often made the viewer feel uncomfortable. The restriction of privacy within Nina’s home was very threatening to the viewer. This situation allowed for the audience to connect with the Nina on a personal level, as we could understand the hardships she had to deal with on a daily basis. In Rodney’s review he adds that Nina “strains to have a real relationship with her mother who is also driving her into her career”. Rodney makes a very valid point exhibiting the constant stress that Nina experiences through almost every scene in the film. Overall, this was an entertaining film and one of the best of the year. I am constantly impressed with Daren Aronofsky’s work and saw Black Swan as one of his best.

  • KMD

    The acting, dark symbolism, artistic struggle and emotion among sexes were raw and well done. Yet, as a former ballet dancer and current instructor, I’m still a little confused with the adaption and specific choreography chosen in some of the scenes. Anybody who knows classical ballet knows that the bang behind the Black Swan’s role and character is the 36 non-stop fouette turns at the end of the pas de deux with Siegfried. Nina (Portman) attempts to complete the full set of turns in her audition, but is distracted and falls off pointe when Lily walks in the studio. So much of this role has to do with those steely, difficult turns. Instead, in the end, we see Nina doing simple pique turns (to the left, which is unusual!) with just a few fouette turns in her final landing. What could have been a literal dance climax to the Black Swan’s evolution on stage was instead bit of a letdown. Maybe my pragmatic ballet background is muddling the artistry of the movie, but I don’t think I’m alone in this interpretation.

  • kerry

    just wondering if anyone else caught an editing error: the rash on Nina’s back is on the right side, but in one scene as she is walking into her bathroom at her home it is on the left side

  • Kimberly

    You definetly walk out of the theartre with your mind racing. I was asking myself, What parts were in her head? Was she fighting the ‘black swan’ internally almost like a split personality? did she really have relations with the other ballerina or was it in her head and thats when the meshing of all the qualities she she needed to become both swans? Did she really stab herself and if she did was it the killing of the innocent side of her? Did she die? Yes, this movie will be inside my head for a long time. I loved it…after I got over the shock of the lesbian scene. I plan on watching the wrestler today.

  • katy lomb

    The only scene I didnt fully understand, was towards the beginning, after Natalie Portman was selected, she went into the restroom, and as we see her under the stall, legs only showing, she is facing the toilet, the way a man would urinate, and what? what were they implying there?

    • michelle

      She was throwing up.

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