#21 / 365 – ‘Black Swan’ – 108 mins
Cinema Challenge #8 / 115
Fragile dancer Nina (Natalie Portman) lives a sheltered, ballet-obsessed life with her, ex-ballerina mother (Barbara Hershey). When Nina is promoted to prima — replacing the older Beth (Winona Ryder) — for a new production of Swan Lake, her director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), urges her to explore her dark side so that she can better embody the dual role of the Swan Queen and the Black Swan. This, combined with her concern over the ambitions of a new arrival at the company, Lily (Mila Kunis), pushes Nina towards breaking point.
Black Swan is a bizarrely different kind of experience and one we come to expect from Director Darren Aronofsky (‘Requiem for a Dream, ‘The Wrestler’) as he takes you to the edge and back, in this tale of obsession and ultimately how it can completely give a person a break-down like no other. That person is and I will come out and say it now “The Oscar goes to…..Natalie Portman” as she embodies the role of Nina flawlessly, by making you actually believe she is actually having this incredible transformation to her dark side.
Portman is backed up an equally impressive supporting cast, Barbara Hershey is excellent and scary as Nina’s extremely over protective mother. Mila Kunis (‘The Book of Eli’) is surprisingly good as Nina’s arch rival Lily.
What Aronofsky as served up here is technically and visually perfect and this is none more evident in the opening scene, from a long continuous shot of Nina dancing the White Swan to which he continues to take you on this ride of striking imagery throughout. But it’s in the films final thirty minutes that it really takes hold as Arnonsky ramps up the pace and tension all to pulsating and superbly constructed Clint Mansell (‘Moon’, ‘The Wrestler’) score.