Search This Blog

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Black Swan Movie Review - Hate Ballet Still Love the Film

Even if you hate the ballet, you'll like Black Swan. Black Swan is a cinematic beauty. Every scene utterly drips personality, emotion, expression, anxiety and subtle, prolonged torment. It is vivid and emotionally dark.  The film is so intense that, in a very, very good way, it felt much longer than the 108 minutes on the DVD cover.  I was drained after watching this film.

Natalie Portman plays Nina, a ballerina that lives a secluded almost monk like existence with her mother.  Nina dedicates every ounce of her soul to the ballet and in preparation for her chance at a  breakthrough lead role in the ballet, Swan Lake.

Black Swan depicts the world of ballet as an envious, competitive, emotionally draining, physically damaging profession filled with characters with virtually no exit plan.  No plans for old age, no plans for love, no plans for anything except the next moment in a physically degenerative career (think The Wrestler or North Dallas Forty). The Ballet is an art that consumes its dancers with moments. One moment the dancer is with the therapist (literally putting joints back together), then off to work on choreograph, then off to pine over proper form and technique, then grooming, fixing make up, a moment to eat very little, then finally a moment to throw up from frayed nerves.

Swan Lake is a fictional, whimsical struggle between two forces in one character.  Two personalities trying to tear each other apart.  Black Swan's dystopian world of ballet  demonstrates that this can happen to the ballerinas as well.

Portman plays the greatest and most tormented character of her career.  This is not some stiff, one dimensional character from a lame Star Wars sequel. This is a true study in acting. You feel the pain and determination  without Portman ever having to say it.  

The supporting cast is excellent.  Barbara Hershey, who plays Nina's mother, is great as the Ballerina that almost-once-was.  Hershey plays a complicated part to the tee.  Is she a horrible, dominating mother or loving and supporting.  Those lines are blurred. You can't tell.  During both loving and trouble moments in their relationship is Nina seeing her mom through her own kaleidoscope torment or is she seeing her as her mother really is.

The film is filled with these brilliant ambiguous moments that give it a very surreal feeling, though in the end you realize even the most supernatural events in the film are quite plausible.

Check out Black Swan.  You'll love it even if you don't like the ballet.

Rated R

108 Minutes


  1. I really don't like "Black Swan" at all. I found it to be melodramatic, self-absorbed and completely non-engaging.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed the film but I can say for sure it isn't for everyone