Is an intense and dark psychological drama that revolves around the life of a ballerina. Keeping a suspenseful tone, it leaves you to decipher its implied messages and leaves you to your interpretations.
Cast – Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
Director – Darren Aronofsky
Nina (Portman) lives a one track life which is all about trying to achieve perfection in her dance and fervently hoping to get her big chance in her troupe. Glimpses of her personal life show her coping with some emotional/mental disorder and being fussed over by an obsessive and controlling mother.
When Art Director Thomas (Cassel) holds auditions for the lead dancer and a complex and dual role, he wants someone who can play the White Swan and Black Swan equally well. While Nina’s seems perfect for the White Swan, what she lacks for the Black swan is the free uninhibited spirit, a pinch of darkness and a bit of wild, which she doesn’t possess.
To add to complexities, Thomas is a man known for dalliance with his lead stars which she isn’t comfortable about. To make matters worse, Nina sees tough competition from Lily (Kunis) who better fits the bill for Black Swan.
Coping with her own aspirations, rigorous painstaking rehearsals, insecurities, advances from Thomas and her own severely constricting limitations of a repressed personality, she gets pushed deep into the labyrinths of her own mind.
Out of the wide variety of psychological films that I have seen, this is by far the most complex and deep one.
In a very suspenseful narrative that’s keeps you guessing its different interpretations, Aronofsky blends many things together. It might be centred around an art form that is known to be extremely difficult and demands an almost complete submission to it mentally and physically but it is also about the many facets that are not limited to ballet alone, like the central theme of duality, the pressure of aspirations, the limitations of one’s own personality, over protectiveness that is borderline repressive and the abyss that this potent combination can push one to.
Portman gives a stellar performance as the complex Nina with her overage innocence, extreme distress and her sublime desperation to excel. She deservedly won an academy award for the best actress for her role.
This film, winner of academy award nominations in five categories, is dark, deep and tacit. Boasting of a brilliant performance by Portman, it is a must watch for those with palate for this genre.