Black Swan

Rating: ★★★★½ Black Swan Poster

Nina Sayers wakes up in the morning and shares the marvelous dream she had with her single mother, Erica. She was on stage, performing the lead role in Tchaikovsky’s ballet masterpiece, “Swan Lake.” Other hard-working female ballet dancers also dream of this role, and with great reason. To star in an event of this magnitude is not only to share your love for this art. It also provides an opportunity on the grandest scale to finally show the world the passion that you, for so long, spent years to perfect.

The ballet company that Nina occupies is starting a new season, and its director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), is looking for a new star. Nina is eventually chosen, but the preparations will not be easy. She is required to play two characters of opposite nature, the White Swan and the Black Swan. Disciplined, controlled, and performing according to technique, Nina is a candidate who is more than ideal for the White Swan. But she lacks the qualities that are essential to embody the Black Swan, which demands her to follow feelings, and not methods.

Nina’s responsibility indeed asks much of her, but ballet in itself is a grueling practice. It’s ironic how the graceful gestures and elegant movements that ballet creates are achieved through continuous punishment of the body. Those who master this craft withstand tremendous pain until they adapt to actions the human body was never designed to do. Such training could damage the mind as much as it could hurt the limbs, and we slowly and fearfully learn how badly this has affected Nina herself. Things are only about to get worse.

“Black Swan” evolves to a horrifying account of a woman’s obsessive quest for perfection that is punctuated with a psychological thrust. One could be perfect from his or her own eyes but cannot feel absolute satisfaction until recognized by the perception of others. And the few people that surround Nina are ones of high standards. Her mother, Erica, was a ballerina herself, and did not make it far when she became pregnant with Nina. Erica’s career was ended, and now she sees Nina’s life as a continuation of it. The tension that Nina encounters at home erupts with a sexual connotation stimulated by Thomas. The Black Swan needs to be seductive, which is a characteristic that was never called for in Nina’s ballet-centered life.

Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers

Earlier, we meet a newcomer on the company named Lily (Mila Kunis). Lily, at first, wanders in the background. When she approaches the center of the story, we discover that Lily has everything Tomas is missing in Nina: a natural gift of reflecting her sexual persona into her dancing. Already suffering from the pain and pressure, Nina is faced with a threat. Her health and sanity starts to tremble, and ignores it.

Surely, we arrive at the premier of the “Swan Lake”, which is a climax that is all at the same time harrowing, twisted, wonderful, unforgettable. Audiences are treated with a final act of resounding beauty and hidden insanity. This is where Natalie Portman, as Nina, establishes herself as an actress with capabilities far above the reach of others. When she sets foot on that stage, just like the one in her dream, we remember where her character started, and what it had become, and what caused it to be that way. What happens in this event is not my job to tell, but for yours to experience.

Director Darren Aronofsky took us to a disturbed mind, and for a significant, unsettling amount of time, he left us there. He trapped us inside of Nina’s collapsing psyche.  He used elements of horror and combined it with great artistry. He succeeded.

We begin to confuse reality with insanity when Nina begins to confuse reality with insanity. It’s a frightful and invigorating test. We sit and we wait in the midst of this nightmare, hoping that Nina takes us with her when she wakes up in the morning.


  1. Wonderful but creepy movie. It thrills me watching psychological film like this.

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