The musings of a feminist pop culture fanatic

#6 Black Swan (12/10)

EW Description: “The dark psychological thriller from director Darren Aronofsky stars Natalie Portman as an intense prima ballerina who unravels spectacularly while preparing for the role of a lifetime. Mila Kunis costars as a seductive rival who may or may not be pushing along her breakdown.”

This film left me speechless. Literally. I could not form a coherent sentence for about 20 minutes after I left the theater. All I could think was “wow” and “what the hell just happened.” I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and this was one of the best I have ever seen.

Natalie Portman plays Nina, a ballerina who is Type A to the extreme. She gets the role as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake and it becomes her sole mission in life to perfect the part. Her director (Vincent Cassell, who I could only think of as a creepy French Matthew Morrison) thinks Nina is perfect for the virginal White Swan. It’s the seductive, evil Black Swan that he does not think she can pull off as well. For the rest of the film, Nina is determined to prove him wrong and show she can play both parts.

Mila Kunis co-stars as Lily, a new ballerina who is more wild and free-spirited than Nina. Eventually, Nina becomes convinced Lily is trying to steal her role as the Swan Queen. Barbara Hershey plays Nina’s mother, who is the epitome of a helicopter parent. Finally, Winona Ryder has a small part as the former prima ballerina of the company.

There’s so much to say about this film. Aronofsky plays with symbolism and dualities throughout the entire movie. It’s not done in a way that is heavy-handed or annoying, however. I can’t go into very much detail about it without ruining the plot, but it’s really exquisite.

The score was recently disqualified from Oscar contention due to too much of it not being original music. While I see the point of that, I still believe this score was phenomenal. There’s no denying that the music from Swan Lake is fantastic on its own, but it also enhances the film a great deal. The music did what it was supposed to in its context. It made the film more thrilling and compelling. By the end, I was on the edge of my seat and I think a great deal of that is because of the use of music.

Overall, this was one of the best films I have ever seen. Natalie Portman was absolutely fantastic and I firmly believe the Oscar is hers to lose. As much as I loved Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, it just didn’t quite measure up to Portman.

One thing to note is that this does have a very hard R rating. If you are uncomfortable with masturbation or lesbian sex, you might get hung up on that and not be able to fully appreciate the film. That would be a shame because the final product is really astounding.

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