Black Swan Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 16, 2011
This may be a movie, that in time grows on me more and more times after i watch it just to fully appreciate this movie.
It is a very intriguing and mesmerising movie all round with great performances, fantastic cinematography and great direction.

Although at first i wasn't sure if i wanted to watch this movie as it is about ballet even if it is a psychological thriller, however it truly won me over, i think Natalie Portman delivers a stunning and top of the form performance that is truly worthy of the oscar.
She certainly delivers a fantastic performance that could possibly persuade me to go and see and actual ballet production.

The storyline and script are beautifully written and is a very interesting concept that i very much enjoyed.

The story of a ballet dancer striving for perfection but also needing to find that balance between perfection and relaxing so that the emotion of the dance comes through in the dance. I liked that the story concentrated on the difficulty of striving for that perfection when competing against other determined/driven dancers. It really is a great psychological thriller that has a border line between sanity and insanity.

A very good movie and does have its moments of pure horror as well!

I loved the final scene from where the white swan turns into its opposite and becomes the black, i thought that Natalie Portman did an excellent and exhilarirating performances that i didnt think that you could actually pick on the change between the white swan who is a kind of conscientous, timid and frigid kind of character whereas the black swan is the alto ego of letting go and becoming an intense and maybe scary character and Portman gives and portrays that performance beautifully in that one dance.

Very well down and really worth the watch even if you aren't a ballet fan.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2011
Much like Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," which shows how much damage wrestling wreaks on a human body, despite it being staged, "Black Swan" exposes the emotional and physical tolls of ballet, despite it being so pretty and ladylike. Natalie Portman's performance is painful to watch - in a good way. She's painfully withdrawn, painfully giddy, painfully lithe, and painfully sensual. The masturbation scene is sexy, but it's not meant to be just that. It's guarded at first, then freeing, then painfully embarrassing. Much of the pain, I suppose, comes from the audience knowing that fit is gonna hit the shan at any moment.

Upon first viewing, I thought the movie broke its own set of supernatural rules because all throughout, we're supposed to believe that what Nina sees, feels, and does are figments of her imagination - sprouting swan wings, shanking a bitch. Nina doesn't REALLY sprout wings. Her ankles don't REALLY collapse in on themselves. She doesn't REALLY kill Lily, and as a corollary, she doesn't REALLY stab herself. No other character in the movie can see these psychotic delusions, yet the one that they do see (the bloody gash from aforementioned shanking) just happens to be caused by the only delusion that the filmmakers don't even show the audience (Nina killing herself, apparently, when she thought she was killing Lily).

However, I bought the fantasy-becoming-reality climax more this time for no real reason other than perhaps wanting a believable resolution that mirrors the sacrificial suicide in the plot of "Swan Lake."
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
December 19, 2010
The "Mindf@*ck" film genre has just gotten a solid new entry with "Black Swan" a psychosexual thriller starring Natalie Portman and directed by Darren Aronofsky. But "Swan" despite its excellent execution and master class performances doesn't quite achieve the heights of other classics in this genre like "Mulholland Drive", "Memento" or even Aronofsky's amazing "Requiem of a Dream".

"Black Swan" follows the rise (or dark descent) of a featured ballerina (Portman) who lands the coveted lead role in a new production of "Swan Lake". As she prepares for the part, she finds herself battling with a beautiful new rival who possesses the qualities she lacks (Mila Kunis), her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey), her admiration for the prior and now past her prime featured ballerina (Winona Ryder) and the production's eccentric director (Vincent Cassel. These conflicts begin a fascinating trip into darkness.

Portman is essential to the film's success and her committed performance is a wonder to behold. The young actress is raw in her approach and brings the character alive both physically and mentally. She's surrounded by a solid cast with Kunis demonstrating chops she had little chance to display in her prior roles. Veterans Hershey and Ryder do well with their parts, but are nothing more but stock characters with very little surprise.

"Swan" is painstaking in its portrayal of the brutality of the ballet world - with injuries and psychological torment in full display - and perhaps this painstaking detail is what distracts "Swan" and ultimately makes it feel too laborious to get through. But this does not destroy the film it just blunts the impact the film could have had if it had only been a bit more tightly paced.

With that said, "Swan" is still a definite must watch. Aronofsky again showcases a unique point of view and perspective that is rarely seen in film today and "Swan" while not a masterpiece is still a fascinating film to watch.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2011
Wow! this film had me on edge since the beginning. I don't remember having been so stupefied by a film quite like this. Portman is a revelation here and although I didn't exactly like her character that doesn't matter because that was her intention. The whole movie is a metaphor for what it means to want to reach perfection.
Super Reviewer
½ December 5, 2010
Swan Lake. The prologue, when Rothbart casts his spell. Cut. A smiley and sweet Natalie Portman wakes up in a pink childish room. Although, her head lays down on a white pillowcase with black curlicues enveloping it. The first of too much other obvious signs we'll see representing duality or multiplicity.

The prologue is this same opening scene, the dream. It's not possible to be sure if the "dream" truly became reality, but we tend to believe it, though not literally.

Black Swan has been compared to Red Shoes and Repulsion among others. Indeed, but once we feel Vicky' s passion for dancing (Red Shoes), we can't feel it in Nina. The ballet seems to be only another neurose, maybe the closest symbol of the perfection she seeks. Once Carole (Repulsion) is really scary and intriguing, Nina is only a scared "little girl" we can only feel for. She's not complex or interesting at all, neither any of the other characters are. Lily, nothing but the tiring free-spirited femme fatale, could only be the alter ego of Nina's lack of depth, personality. All Nina needs to shine is to bring out her bad side that is, of course, mostly represented by sex and "drugs".

Being real or not, Lily and Erica, the mother, are both sides of Nina. Even if they really exist, we only know them by Nina's perspective: the way she sees them represent her own battle against herself. When the mother is pretty much the first against whom we rebel when claiming for liberty, it couldn't have a better choice than the mother figure in opposition to the liberal self, to settle down Nina's bad side. I had the impression that Erica's presence was allegoric in the masturbation scene; Nina would have felt her presence in the room. Instead, she only sees mommy when having pleasure = guilt. Also, Erica changes a bit as Nina's black side tries to come out: from a overprotective and stifling, but yet kind mother (all she does, even if in a wrong way, is to worry and try to protect Nina), a possible incest relationship is suggested what possible only happens in Nina's mind as all other sexual situations (the old guy on the subway, Lily, Thomas, etc). Nina is afraid of her own self and needs to find spoilers everywhere. She returns Beth's things thinking that they could have corrupted her. She battles against her mom (control) and she battles against Lily (chaos) to finally understand what Thomas said: "the only person standing in your way is you".

But don't take me wrong: it's another overrated movie that could have been very good, but that lacks of subtlety and a more consistent persona. Not to mention that all the "scaring" sounds and noises, red eyes and other things alike supposed to fright are boring and even made me laugh sometimes. And what about all the buzz around Natalie Portman has shocked Venice Film Festival with the lesbian scene? Do people really still get shocked and with such a scene? Intentionally or not, just another promotional material... Some tv shows have already showed much better scenes.

I really wanted to like it, but I haven't seen any spectacularity neither in the movie nor in Natalie Portman's performance. I'm sorry, but it's nothing than Natalie Portman being "nice" (in a certain point of Black Swan, the young Portman of Everyone Says I love You, crying because the boy she likes chose her sister, was there) and "bad", what she already did in Closer.
Explain something to me: Mila Kunis getting the Marcello Mastroianni Prize for young performance was supposed to be a joke?
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2012
87% of critics like this film. 100% of men enjoy this film for 2.5 minutes of this film... I am part of that 100%
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2012
Beautiful, haunting, and thrilling. This is one of the best films in years. Portman steals the show with a raw and brilliant performance. This is more than a film. This is a work of art.
Super Reviewer
½ March 24, 2012
Acting is used with precision, Natalie and Vincent are the perfect choices for the roles that they play, this film will win awards after awards.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2010
A riveting, shocking, and great movie. In the past, Natalie Portman grabbed some attention from her previous movies (V for Vendetta, Brothers) but her performance in Black Swan beyond anything she's ever done before. She is outstanding. The direction, cinematography, and editing seems to be in the same style as Darren Arronofsky's previous movie, The Wrestler, but it definitely fits with the theme and the message of the movie. This movie is gritty and artful movie. Black Swan is one of the best of 2010 but a bit of a warning: It is definitely not for everyone and the movie is extremely graphic.
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2012
I saw this a few weeks ago and I'm still not really sure whether I liked it or not...
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2010
Natalie was fantastic (duh). Very beautifully done. Very.
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2012
I have to say I am not much of a fan of dance, though I do appreciate the high degree of commitment and concentration involved. That being said, Black Swan, which uses the ballet world and whose story in many ways mirrors the sentiments of Swan Lake (to the point that the closing credits give each character a name from the film and a name or character from the ballet) is an inspiring bit of filmmaking art.

That Aronofsky takes these intertwining stories and balances a bid of madness is the true genius of the film. The story, taken at face value, is not revolutionary, but once you filter in the madness factor, where what you are seeing may or may not be filtered through that perspective, the film gains an entirely different, higher level, which makes the film's ending a truly powerful statement. As the lead character Nina purrs, "it was perfect", you get the idea that perfection, especially in art, is but a fleeting moment, and yet that overriding sense of unity with one's self and one's art, even if only for a second, is the grail worth devoting a life of sacrifice for.

Natalie Portman's performance as Nina is certainly worth the Oscar she won, as she conveys an almost split personality to perfection. As she slowly comes to embrace the "dark queen" of her psyche, her entire demeanor changes - facial expressions harden, her voice goes from timid squeak to confident fullness, even her eyes seem more sparkly and alive as her two halves become, if not one, then something where there is strength.

I also was very impressed with Vincent Cassel's work as Leroy, the head of the theatre company who cajoles Nina into searching for that other side of herself, which is exemplified by Mila Kunis, the embodiment of the Black Swan who, by friendship or other motives, drives the White Swan, Nina, into venturing to the dark side.

There's certainly a lot to chew on here, as you've probably gathered by what I've already penned. One can argue about the characters' motives, and essentially who they really are, for days since all is filtered through Nina's warped lens. Does her mother really resent her, or is that just some kind of warped perspective on Nina's part (and taken further, is dear old mom just as susceptible to psychotic break as her daughter? The odd art that mom paints makes you guess).

I was a bit taken aback by the first half of the film, finding it over simplified and somewhat cliché, while a reasonable look inside a ballet company; until I realized that the quirkiness was all because it came from the perspective of one really quirky character. Once that became clear, it gave the film a certain creative license to be oddly stilted - which made the premier performance of Swan Lake all the more powerful and breathtaking.

Truly, this film will probably rise in stature given time, if for nothing more than Portman's performance and this truism: "perfection isn't just about control, it's about letting go" - if you are an artist in any way, shape or form, this seemingly contradictory statement is the absolute truth, and the true transcendence of art.
Super Reviewer
½ February 5, 2012
Just average to me...wanted to see it cause Natalie Portman's really hot, and because of all the awards it received, but...I just didn't see what all the fuss was about, personally.
Super Reviewer
January 29, 2012
And the Oscar goes to: ...The King's Speach.
...I'm real happy for you....I'mma let you finnish. But Aronofsky had one of the best movies of all time....Of all time... And that's exactly what it is. I've never feelt like this in the theather before. Absolutely crazy. Portman does the role of her life. And everybody else...magnificant. It grabs a hold of you....and you don't want it to let go. You welcome the horror. And you can just feel the passion thoughout the whole movie. I would really like it to be one hour longer. Cause when you feel the last scene it the feel sad that it's almost over. But then they nail that aswell. And you gotta feel good. And the music...let's not even get into that... It's almost like I never wanna see it again cause I wanna keep the memory of that day. But I have to...because it was so good. If you havn't seen this movie. Don't wait. As I said...One of the best movies of all time
Super Reviewer
½ December 14, 2010
Dark, strange and edgy enough to keep it interesting, but still something was missing for me. I felt the acting was incredible!
Super Reviewer
July 20, 2011
I was not expecting that.
***SPOILER Alert***
I was expecting it to be set in the real world, and it took my unsuspecting mind and raped it. The movie was actually beautiful and Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis are ridiculously hot in it, I would watch it again except it (and Winona Ryder, and my friends simulating Winona Ryder after the movie at 1am before I had to drive home alone) scared the crap out of me.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2010
Walter, HELP! I'm 49 minutes into this . . . no kidding . . . MUCH respected work of art, and I'm -- I kid you not -- thinking about adding it to our list. What is wrong with me? Please help me before I commit it to THE LIST. If I do that, I know that no one will ever want to read my comments again. I fear. A lot. Maybe. But I know the word FEAR is overused. And I know it's like 3:30 in the morning where you are. But if you're up watching a GOOD movie, please shoot me some advice in the next 30 minutes or so. You know, like, "Hang in there. Natalie Portman won an Oscar," or, you know, blah blah blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. Mahalo, Walter, for any kind help with this trauma. If I can avoid PTSD -- or PTSS as they are calling it now days -- over a movie, mahalo. Original comment for my "want to see it" ranking: The huge positive press for this one is making me nervous, but I'm going to chance it anyway.
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2011
Don't know what all the hype was about. The Black Swan focuses mainly on the White Swan. Nina wants to be in Swan Lake. She is not the best ballerina but she is casted as the Queen Swan. She is insecure and paranoid about girls stealing her role. Good cast with Natalie Portman, Mia Kunis and Vincent Cassel. Winona Ryder plays a small role as the former lead ballerina forced into retirement as she is replaced by Nina, the new protege. Sexual content was unnecessary.
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2010
Darren Aronofsky has released another masterpiece. Like "The Wrestler", "Black Swan" chronicles another character destroying their being, both mentally and physically, to fulfill demanding passions. I'm convinced that no one is better suited to capture a character's collapse, than Aronofsky. Natalie Portman is more than deserving of all the praise she received in this role, balancing fragile innocence with mad intensity. This film is quite the experience, I was entirely impressed. Highest possible recommendation.
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