I used to love Ballet when I was younger. I was never destined to be a prima ballerina though. Having just watched Black Swan, I am eternally grateful for that.
Starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis this is a disturbing film indeed. Billed as a pyschological thriller/horror, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I mean how scary can ballet be? Right?
Wrong. Portman plays Nina, a fragile, supremely perfect ballerina, perfectly suited to the role of the White Swan of Swan Lake. Fragile, elegant, innocent. She executes perfection in her every move.
However, she is too perfect, too precise and too frigid to play the sensual black swan. She must become both. Mila Kunis plays Lily, who arrives at the company, and is the embodiment of the black swan.
The pressure builds, and Nina starts to spiral out of control as she begins to lose her grip on reality. Her mother tries to live her dreams through Nina, having never actually made it as prima ballerina herself. She piles the pressure upon Nina, who becomes haunted by a double of herself. Kunis' Lily becomes her nemesis, threatening her fragile mind when she becomes the understudy.
Driven near insane with the pressure, Nina starts to self harm - scratching herself and imagining losing finger nails and so on. She finds Lily in her dressing room, and a fight breaks out. Nina stabs Lily, then goes on to give an epic performance as the dark and sensual black swan. She receives a standing ovation and returns to the dressing room. When Lily comes to congratulate her, she realises the fight was her imagination.
Nina sees the mirror is still smashed, and finally, she realises she has in fact cut herself with the glass. Back on stage again as the white swan, about to throw herself off the cliff, she sees that her mother is crying. She is beautiful, perfect, and as the climax builds, she becomes the swan. Throwing herself from the cliff to fall upon the hidden mattress, tears fall down her face.
The company gather to congratulate her, but see that she is bleeding badly. The applause is deafening, as she whispers "I felt it, perfect, it was perfect". The lights go white and it ends there.
Now, if you aren't a ballet fan, you are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. I can honestly say that Portman portrays the pressure of trying to reach the top, and the resultant breakdown in such consistent realistic style that ballet or not, it is mesmerising. She herself is so beautiful and fragile and talented, that it has you enthralled. You don't have to know a thing of ballet. Although a fact for those fact fans out there, is that both Portman and Kunis trained hard to learn the craft - for several months to reach the level they needed to portray here. That is dedication.
I wouldn't say this is horror, but its definetely scary and well worth a watch. An oscar winning performance, but enough of that. Its a damn good watch. 9 out of 10 from me. Fantastic.