The Art of “The Black Swan”

Director Darren Oronofsky (well known for movies such as The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream) is the mastermind behind “The Black Swan”, a movie that may soon be regarded as a classic. After ten years of writing, Oronofsky’s script was finally transferred onto the screen, and from what I saw, it was well worth the time and effort.

Black Swan centers around Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a ballerina in New York City who lives and breathes dance. Nina is portrayed as kind, gentle, unsure and innocent, which generally benefits her in ballet, but also causes some long-term issues for her throughout the movie.

The plot begins at the start of a new ballet season, in which artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel in a very creepy role) chooses Swan Lake as the first production. Nina is the immediate favorite as the White Swan due to her perfect technique and form. However, in order for her to land the lead role as Swan Queen, she must also be able to dance the Black Swan, a role that demands vanity and extreme sensuality. Meanwhile, a new girl, Lily (Mila Kunis), impresses Leroy with her confidence and assurance, traits that go perfectly with the Black Swan.

Nina soon becomes obsessed with landing the role, and while she tries to better play the Black Swan, she undergoes a crazy transformation of her own. One of the best parts of the film is seeing Nina’s transformation into the Black Swan, and her slow, painful change into a monster. The on-screen effects are both disturbing and beautiful; a perfect mix in my opinion. Natalie Portman plays Nina magnificently, and earns my vote for Best Actress in the upcoming Academy Awards.

Accelerating Nina’s downward spiral into beastdom is Lily, who is manipulative and quasi-friendly with Nina throughout the film. As a whole, Black Swan easily earns it’s R rating. A lot of scenes will make viewers want to cover their eyes, but you will find yourself peering through your fingers, wanting to know what is about to happen. Some of the factors that set Black Swan apart from most movies are the symbols and ongoing metaphors, which fit perfectly into the story line. However, they can be easily missed or misinterpreted, which adds on to the depth of the movie, and requires the viewer’s full attention throughout. Black Swan is a thriller on every level, and is one of the creepiest movies of 2010.

I loved Black Swan for nearly every reason viewers should like movies. It had terrific acting, awesome action and a brilliant script. Like a lot of thriller movies, the movie starts out slowly, and ends with a bang. Black Swan is not only a movie about ballet and transformation, but also a movie about artistry, and fully immersing oneself in a role. Mila Kunis gives a very convincing performance as Lily, and Barbara Hershey plays Nina’s overly controlling mother with a perfect amount of sympathy and grief.

My least favorite part of the movie (which was easy to pick because I like almost everything) was the beginning of the movie because the scenes seemed to drag a little. However, I realize that it was probably necessary for the plot and the building of the suspense. I also found myself getting annoyed with Thomas Leroy (Cassel), because he seemed perverted and creepy.

It may make you have nightmares (although if you are around 17 like you are supposed to be this is unlikely) or steal away your innocence, but I would still highly recommend Black Swan to everyone. Even if thrillers/scary movies aren’t your thing, it is impossible not to admire the overall excellence of this film.

4.5 / 5 Stars