Sunday, 9 January 2011

Black Swan Film Review

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I was quite intrigued as it looked like a really dark movie. I like twists on well known tales, which seem to be the theme for many upcoming movies such as "Red Riding Hood", "Maleficent" and, "Hansel and Gretel: Witch hunters".

Nina (Natalie Portman) is a talented ballet dancer who dreams of performing in Swan Lake. When the opportunity comes, Nina is picked as Swan Queen. Innocent and sensible, Nina is "perfect" as the white swan, but is too controlled for the role of the evil twin sister, the Black Swan.

As the debut of Swan Lake nears, anxiety, jealousy and pressure takes over her, causing her to be paranoid that fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) will replace her as swan queen. Workaholic and perfectionist, Nina will have to let herself go to become the Black Swan, but will she take it too far?

If you have no idea what this movie was about, you'd think it was a fluffy movie about ballet dancing, but things take a quick turn as Nina starts seeing and experience mysterious things. "Are they real or are they hallucinations?" is the question you'll be asking throughout the movie. I thought the movie would be slightly darker still, but there are some real gruesome scenes in here that you will want to look away from.

Thematically, the Nina's preparation for the production of Swan Lake follows a similar path of jealousy, anger and hopelessness as she strives to take on the black swan persona, which leads her to destroying her own self and innocent character. 

I love the artistic elements the movie portrays through ballet. As an interpretive dance, a lot of emotion can be expressed through the movements and the idea of "Swan Lake" being the ultimate performance foreshadows the fall of Nina from good to evil.

There are a lot of things the movie failed to develop extensively, such as the strange mentality of Nina's mother, Nina's relationship with Thomas (Vincent Cassel) and perhaps the fate of Beth (Winona Ryder) on Nina.

I was extremely impressed by the majority of the movie in terms of suspense and the fact we're watching this ballet production imposes an element of opulence and class. However, there are scenes in here that will make you uncomfortable. The bar scenes and vivid sex scenes will not be "liked" by everyone but intensifies Nina's rebellious and lustful streak.

The pace of the movie is moderate but definitely speeds up towards a definitive climax~ here it is ultimately tragic and full of tension, slowly to be diffused through the power of ballet and the predictable but justifiable ending.

Natalie Portman- Nina Sayers
Mila Kunis- Lily
Vincent Cassel- Thomas Leroy
Winona Ryder- Beth

Also stars Ksenia Solo, Toby Hemingway and Benjamin Millepied.

Natalie Portman was sublime as Nina- she had the look of innocence throughout the movie. I felt though, she needed to be slightly more confident near the end as she starts to turn evil. After every "naughty" action, she recoils into this innocent girl- perhaps the film's suggesting that everyone is innocent within, but I definitely felt she should have been overcome with her dark side for a bigger part of the latter half. Still, she was fantastic.

Mila Kunis was also nice to watch, though she didn't sparkle. Despite her small role, Winona Ryder definitely took her role and elevated it to a memorable extreme. She is truly back! It's interesting that these three actresses look quite similar- it definitely aids in the paranoia of Nina.

As a psychological thriller, Black Swan will have you at the edge of your seat for the majority of the movie. You just don't know what will happen next. Sharing themes from Swan Lake, "Black Swan" is like a modern real life take on the story, with the final performance like "a play within a play". I

love that aspect about this movie, as it portrays the same tragedy and emotion that Swan Lake would've done as Nina transforms into a dark character. Natalie Portman is perfectly cast for this role and she shows what an amazing actress she could continue to be- her best performance to date.

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