Academy Awards Best Picture Nominee – Black Swan
by Nicholas Robinson
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. – IMDB.com
As you people may have read, this movie was my number one movie of 2010, so you must have been waiting for this review to see how this could beat the 10/10 I gave Inception last month. Technically it can’t (unless like Spinal Tap I turn this up to an 11) but I won’t spoil the review by giving the number before writing my review so enjoy. This movie was utterly perfect. The story was great, the acting was downright amazing, the score was perfect and the cinematography was great.
The movie overall was a film adaptation of the Swan Lake ballet and the story was perfect for it. The way Swan Lake was adapted to feel so realistic was done amazingly. The flashes of Nina’s face on other people and her opposite shown in Lily is done so well. Also something that I didn’t notice the first time I watched it was how much Nina’s skin flashed with the scales (?) of a swan. After she gets the role there are flashes almost everytime you see her skin. What I really liked was not only the plot part of the story but the actress’ dedication to their roles. Just the look of Nina as a ballet dancer (anorexic of course) was amazing. She was so thin that everytime she moved you could see her bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons move as how they should and it added to the creepiness of what was to come.
The acting was amazing. Natalie Portman was absolutely amazing. She played the constantly transforming character of Nina Sayers perfectly. The way she transforms from this naive, hopeful, mama’s girl ballet dancer to this mature, confident and beautiful dancer who is going crazy was just wonderful. Vincent Cassel did a great job as the head of the dance company who was a seductive whore that ruined women’s lives was a great prince. Mila Kunis also did a good job (surprisingly as I consider her eye candy, not an actress) as Lily, Nina’s almost exact opposite who not only introduces Nina to her own dark side but (according to Nina) seduces her prince and becomes her own personal Black Swan.
However, the best actress apart from Natalie Portman, was Barbara Hershey who played her mother. The conversations between Nina and her mother are just so creepy it’s not funny. Her mother treats her as if she is a child that cannot do anything for herself and I am half agreeing with a theory that was posted on the web that she was molesting Nina, but it is not explained so I can’t say if it is true either way and she shows it so well in this movie. Winona Ryder also did very well as Beth Macintyre, the former star being forced into an early retirement by Thomas. She shows her anger and despair so well in this movie that it makes me want to watch some of her earlier work to see if it was just a fluke or if she was this good all along.
Clint Mansell has scored every single Darren Aronofsky movie along with a few others and every single time his score has fit the movie like a glove on a murderer and has been so beautiful that I listen to it again and again just to listen to it. This was no exception. Mansell’s haunting adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is brilliant and fits every scene perfectly. It is so good that it should be nominated for Best Score in the Oscars BUT as it is not technically original it is ineligible. I don’t care. This was the best score of 2010, even beating Hans Zimmer‘s score for Inception.
The cinematography in this movie was amazing.. Every shot added to the suspense, the terror and the story of this movie. No shot was wasted. Even when you see Natalie Portman prepare her ballerina shoes for practice it just shows you the realistic nature of this movie. Also, after the 1st rehearsal of the Black Swan part of Swan Lake, Nina is working with an old woman and you see her shoulder blades moving up and down and the skin moving around them. It was kind of creepy but also showed the realism very well.
Overall, this is a perfect movie with great performances and an ending line that’ll stay with you forever.
IMDB says 8.6/10
RT says 88%
I say 10/10