“Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go”Review by Lewis Goodall
Black Swan is a non domesticated bird and is closely related to the goose and duck family. Black swans usually spend their time eating bread, building nests and being buoyant. They also have been known to have long necks and can become quite vicious when a toddler will try and get too close to it.
Black swan is also a film directed by Darren Aronofsky and tells the story of Nina (Played by Natalie Portman), a committed ballet dancer who strives to be perfect. Her feathers get rustled as she wins the leading role in the production of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. She is destined to play the role of the white swan and the black swan but must keep it together as the stress and anxiety of the role get to her as she strives to remain perfect.
Got to say now, not a big fan of swans, I think they’re overrated, they look fun to strangle in my opinion. But I am a huge fan of Black Swan. This film absolutely blew me away from start to finish and i couldn’t contain myself after watching the film as I was just so overwhelmed with how much I loved it. Right from the opening shot we are greeted with some lovely cinematography from Matthew Libatique. Its starts with a ballet performance between Nina and a man dressed as a crow. The lighting, the music, the camera angles were all fluid as we then discover it to be a dream of what Nina craves. To be the leading role in Swan lake. She is part of a Ballet school that has brought in a new teacher who has decided to do Swan Lake with a twist. In the story of Swan Lake, there is a white swan and black swan, representing good and evil (no points for guessing which one is which), and this role is normally populated by two different dancers, but in this production it is played by one which happens to be Nina.
Nina, as mentioned played by Natalie Portman, is played amazingly. She starts as this timid teenage girl, very quite, very to herself and Natalie portrayed this so well so I was actually going to mark this film down because I thought she was being annoyingly quiet but you learn that it is perfect for this character as it properly shows the start for her characters development through the film. This is how you pace a characters development is this film right here, it’s so ever so subtle, just in the volume of her speech shows that she is starting to change. As the film progresses you can see her mental state slowly start to deteriorate as the weight of the role starts setting in more and more as the film progresses, this is shown through Nina’s general tone and through the visuals onscreen as Nina’s develops injuries on her body through no cause of her own. Also as she is playing both roles of the white and the black swan, she starts seeing versions of herself around her, showing that it is playing on her mind. Slight spoiler alert I guess so if you don’t want to know anything, skip to the next paragraph which i would highly recommend if you haven’t seen this film. Gone?…. Good. Basically throughout the film she starts to slowly develop characteristics of a swan, she starts visually changing into the black swan to show even further how this role is consuming her. The CGI when creating this is actually spectacular as well as it’s so subtle that is doesn’t overcrowd what you’re watching, it’s as subtle as parts of her skin going bumpy to simulate bird skin and how it’s all weird and lumpy.
Right, back on track. So Natalie Portman does a fantastic job in this role and so does just about everyone. Natalie is joined by Vincent Cassel, who plays the new show director, and Mila Kunis who plays the newest member of the Ballet society. Both these characters are incredibly written in their own right and both provide most of the friction that contributes the the struggles that Nina has with the role. Vincent playing Thomas as the new director was great at adding that authoritative figure to try and bring out Nina’s dark side. He see’s her potential and tries everything to bring it out as he knows it’s in there within. Mila Kunis as Lily plays the carefree girl who Nina essentially learns off during the film to figure out her inner recklessness. This film is written so well, just please see this film. I could speak forever about the characters. Even down to Nina’s mum Erica (played by Barbara Hershey) who isn’t on screen too much but is such a vital part to creating Nina’s character. I suppose that’s a way to sum it up. All the secondary characters have meaning, they all contribute to Nina’s development in one way or another and they’re all performed so well.
The directing is just so incredible in slowly showing the mental tug of war that Nina has within herself and just shows how far someone will go for what their passion lies with. A huge credit to Darren Aronofsky as well for directing a film with a sex scene that actually makes sense, so many times its just thrown in as a cheap gimmick but it contributes a lot to the story. In fact there isn’t a single part of the movie that isn’t purposely in there to add something and that I feel is true storytelling. The story is of course wonderful and it presented beautifully in every way shape or form. Of course it’s ballet so it has production value, I don’t normally look at costumes but they were all really nicely done. Everything technical is done well and the music itself is gorgeous. I always listen out for music and the music in this is loud and in your face to really sell the story.
I could spout on about this film for ages. There is still a lot untouched opinions in this review but I feel like I shouldn’t write anymore as I wont be able to stop otherwise. Although one more thing, one more thing. The ending itself was also perfect, and there is one line, one single line that is probably overshadowed by what’s going on but it has so so much background to it that it just played on my mind and that’s pretty much this film in a nutshell, the smallest details make the biggest ripples in the lake.
Overall I think I can see where this is going. The more I think about this film, I’m still thinking and even nitpicking, I can’t find anything I didn’t like about this film and the pure fact that I cant stop thinking about it and the amount I want to write and talk about it just makes me realise that this is one of my favourite films and I would recommend it to anyone. Well probably not anyone actually, I wouldn’t recommend it for toddlers cause they wouldn’t get it. Toddlers can just stick with getting bitten by the real birds. That works out better for everyone.
Also 1:08:15. Men. You can thank me later