DailyView: Day 104, Movie 176
Who could have guessed that a movie about ballet dancing and the creation of the play Swan Lake could be so dark and disturbing? The answer to that is Darren Aronofsky, the director of such crazy films as Mother!, Noah, and Requiem for a Dream.
In the Black Swan, a young ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) strived to be cast as the Swan Queen when artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decided to replace his current prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder). Nina fit the part of the White Swan to perfection, but she struggled with the sexuality of the Black Swan. Rival dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) fit the Black Swan role better and the two women had interactions with each other
However, the pressure and the constant badgering by her overbearing mother (Barbara Hersey) began to take a toll on Nina and her grasp on reality started to shake.
Like many of Aronofsky’s films, there are scene where you are not sure what exactly is real and what is fantasy. There is a nightmarish tinge to Black Swan, as many of the scenes that seem to be really happening to Nina turn out to be dreams or delusions. This is a great example of the unreliable narrator, because it is impossible to see what was not just inside of Nina’s fracturing mind.
Natalie Portman won an Academy Award for her portrayal in this film and you can see why. She is totally engrossed in the role. You can see her go from the withdrawn and repressed girl kept by her mother to the woman who was dangerously outgoing, filled with a darkness. It was a truly special performance.
Mila Kunis provided easily her best performance of her career playing opposite Nina. It was never exactly obvious what Lily had actually done or wanted, outside of wanting the role of the Swan Queen.
There was a lot of darkness here and the story itself is pretty basic. It is the drama surrounding Natalie Portman’s insane performance that puts the film over the top.