Saturday, 12 February 2011

Black Swan

UK Release:  21st January 2011
Watched in the Cinema: Friday 11th February 2011
Rating: 15
Runtime: 2hrs

IMDb Plot Summary: Nina (Natalie Portman) is 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 obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. 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 (Mila 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 - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

A Quick Review: Nominated for 5 oscars, including best film and best actress for Natalie Portman (which is well deserved), you’d be forgiven for thinking that Black Swan was a masterpiece. A masterpiece it isn’t. A pretty decent film it definitely is. 

As the hype built up around Black Swan, I tried hard not to let that effect how I went into viewing it. It opened superbly with Nina’s dream of her dancing the white swan part: incredible cinematography, that grips you right from the start.  

The gradual tension of paranoia was achieved by many subtle tricks, including filming from behind Nina’s head as she walked the streets, which creates a claustrophobic tone that just gets increasingly stifling as the film goes on. There is a mirror in virtually every scene, reflecting Nina’s mind and her gradual decline into psychosis, or is it? Because that’s the beauty of the Black Swan. It is a psychological thriller, Darren Aronofsky, the director, plays on the audience’s own minds as he switches between Portman and Mila Kunis’s faces, essentially putting us in the fragile mind of Nina. That is what makes the movie very special, and also it’s use of special effects. Obviously I can’t say much because of spoilers, but the climax of the film is astounding as everything comes together and Nina’s mind unfolds. 

Of course we are currently in awards season, and the BAFTAs this Sunday promises to be a good one for Black Swan with 11 nominations, including 4 of the big ones: best film, leading actress, original screenplay and best director. It’s up against some stiff competition, but no matter how well it does tomorrow, it is still well worth a watch.

Score: 8.5/10

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