Darren Arronofsky directs Black Swan, following a lead ballet dancer in the production Swan Lake perfectly playing the role of the white Swan, things take a turn for the strange as she slowly changes and experiences new things, the film stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder.
Arronofsky brings a visceral, psychological thrill ride in Black Swan, a character study and plot with a few twists up its sleeves as we follow the morally good, wholesome Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) who feels the need to be perfect in her ballet and impress others, she comes across troublemaker Lily (Mila Kunis) who represents the taboo and the wild side that Nina is reluctant to indulge in. First off the performances in the film are great, Portman and Kunis shine and Portman especially gives one of her best performances in my opinion, encapsulating the good girl image that Nina had and progressively changing as things went on and Kunis opposite her was excellent with the two having some electric chemistry.
The clashing of opposing personalities and moralities is always great for drama but in the case of this film, it makes for further intrigue in the context of the play and what Nina and Lily represent in the white and Black swan, two very different people who sort of need each other and feel like two sides of the same coin, in a way. While being a drama/thriller, things take… interesting turns and get amped up in a few scenes to the point where you could almost class this a psychological horror with some fairly off putting and ambiguous scenes which make you question what’s happening, just like Nina herself probably is at several points. Black Swan is very much a psychological thriller that unravels, getting more elaborate as it goes on despite seemingly being a straight up drama at first.
The trippy strange aspects of the plot work well with some good cinematography which uses some effective close ups to highlight subtle changes or features in scenes and the way quite a lot of the film is shot, is quite expressive with a distinct indie vibe to things, to capture characters emotions, reactions and interactions well, with a mix of lingering single shots in scenes to capture a feel of naturalism and fast cut scenes as well. The supporting cast is quite good also, in Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey as Erica Sayers, Ninas mom who provides a source of conflict and drama alongside Lily and seeing Nina progress and change into something else makes for compelling psychological drama.
And the music of course also plays an important role in the context of the play and the film and is eerily haunting in a few scenes with the play being acted out and mirroring the lives of the main characters. Black Swan is an interesting film, loaded with emotion, subtext and depth, it may urn people off with its implied ideas and themes but on the surface it’s still an engaging drama with good performances and a morose look into the psyche of a person going through significant change.
. Well shot film, good use of shot types, angles
. Portman and Kunis have great chemistry, good performances
. Plot is engaging