Devoted ballet dancer Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) wins the coveted dual lead role in Swan Lake. Her autocratic director (Vincent Cassel) assures her that she is perfect for the role of the White Swan, but that she might lack the artistic release and sensuality to dance the character’s alter ego, the Black Swan.
Already plagued with emotional insecurities brought on by her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), a failed dancer, Nina begins to believe that Lily (Mila Kunis), a freedom-loving new dancer in the company, is trying to sabotage her performance, so that she can assume the lead role.
Is this really happening, or have the years of intense pressure on Nina finally driving her into madness?
I know that I hold the minority opinion, but I did not like Black Swan.
Yes, the actors are terrific and Natalie Portman certainly deserved an Oscar nomination, though I think that Annette Bening’s character in The Kids Are All Right was more multi-dimensional and, thus more deserving of the award itself.
Why didn't I like the movie?
Aside from the overly graphic scenes of her self-mutilation, I never really cared about Natalie's character.
She is such a screwed up, lost, weak sister from the very beginning of the movie that I could find no reason to root for her. Emotionally, during the course of the film, her character goes from “bad” to “worse.” She never has a chance.
Unlike Mickey Rourke in director Darren Aronofsky's last film (The Wrestler), there is no hope of rescue from the life she is leading and its journey toward insanity. The Wrestler may have a sad ending, but there is definite nobility in Rourke’s final actions. Not so with Ms. Portman.
I had a similar reaction several years ago when I saw Nicholas Cage’s Oscar-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). Cage may have been superb in the role, but I didn’t give a damn about his character either. He started out as a drunk, and over the course of the film, his alcoholism killed him.
Why should I, as an audience member, invest my emotions in a person who is not willing to help him or her self?
On a positive note, Black Swan is visually stunning and Aronofsky has included several powerful, often surprising, sequences that might either be real or are a figment of Nina’s fragile mental condition. The problem here is that, since astute viewers will realize early in the picture that Nina is losing her mind, these later, more bizarre occurrences are likely to be viewed as what they, in fact, are: hallucinations.
The filmmakers may have given us a realistic physical and emotional portrait of life in the world of ballet, but they have failed to give us a protagonist with whom we can identify.
In the screener sent for review, the anamorphic widescreen picture is razor-sharp. There are no noticeable flaws.
In the screener sent for review, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound is excellent.
Three “by the numbers” Making of featurettes.
Black Swan has superb performances and dazzling direction, but it lacks a heart.