Posted on 12/13/10 12:54 AM
Relentless and sublime. A truly enigmatic and masterful thriller, with themes of repression and duality.
You have to be dense not to see the usage of mirror images. From the play itself with two pairs of white/black dressed characters, to the character Lily, to the shots of dark figures opposite in mirrors and in hallucinations. This is obviously the main theme of the film, exploring another side of who we are.
Also present is the theme of being repressed. To the scene with the supposed (?) lesbian sex scene and the fact that her room is for a 12 year old when she is 28. Teenage rebellion happens late for protagonist Nina Sayers, as she slowly grows away from the dependence of her mother. At the beginning they seem close, but by the end Nina wants her privacy and wants to move out.
The acting from Natalie Portman is fantastic. Forgot who she was at times, as I thought she was just the timid and frigid Nina. Barbara Hershey never overdoes it, but plays a controlled domineering mother. The cake scene even reveals more beneath the surface with the relationship with her daughter. Interestingly so, the father is never mentioned.
This is the closest thing you'll get to a horror movie, without it being an actual horror film. The wonders the director could do if tried that genre. Lots of disturbing imagery and symbolism, with wings and feathers relating the Black Swan and the transformation to that side of a person's personality.
As for the climax, gave me goosebumps. They had to use Swan Lake obviously, because that is the ballet they were doing. Watching this once will barely scratch (hehe) the surface. A masterful end that is sad yet beautiful.