Black Swan *****

Running time: 100 mins  Certificate: 15

Synopsis: A fragile ballet dancer Nina (Portman) is promoted to central role in Swan Lake. Her director Thomas (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 along with a new arrival appearing at the company, Lily (Kunis), pushes Nina towards breaking point.

 

Darren Aronofsky over the years has been making films all about the human psyche. Whether it has been in the dull Pi, the intriguing Requiem for a Drea, the over-bloated The Fountain or the overrated The Wrestler. But now the auteur has made his masterpiece. But a word of warning this movie is not for the faint hearted.

He has been clearly influenced by the works of DePalma, Cronenberg and Polanski. In fact the best way to describe the movie is if Dario Argento were to remake The Red Shoes this would possibly be would audiences would encounter. A mixture of body horror, suspenseful scares and artistic dancing.

The story revolves very much like the film’s palette, which is kept to blacks and whites with very little colour shown throughout. The plot goes through the familiar structures of black versus white or good versus evil.

The cast is extraordinary with Portman in particular in true form. She not only makes a believable dancer ( in both ballet and looks), but also gives a multi layer performance which hinders from vulnerability to dominance with the viewer never knowing which version of Nina is going to appear next. Barbara Hershey’s mother is absolutely terrifying, while Cassel and Kunis are given light hearted moments within the story.

The only piece of the puzzle that slightly lets down the whole drama is Winona Ryder who seems to be overacting like a pantomime dame in her role as the jilted  retired dancer.

While the film is absurd, over the top and lacks originality, it is incredibly enjoyable. The movie is also one that will attack every one of the viewer’s senses. In some essence it is an indescribable cinematic experience.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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