Films To Watch Before You Die #34 – Black Swan (2010)

D.J. Haza presents the next entry in his series of films to watch before you die…

Black Swan, 2010.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey.

Black Swan is another dark tale from director Darren Aronofsky and again deals with obsession and self-destruction. This time out Aronofsky has made the obsessive world of ballet his setting and the efforts made by Nina (Portman) as she tries to be the best dancer she can be soon turn her world upside down.

Nina is selected to play the lead role in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake for a prestigious New York ballet company, but being a mild mannered and quiet girl she struggles to play both the white and black swan convincingly. The former being gentle and timid and the latter aggressive. Pushed by her ballet director, Thomas (Cassell), she edges herself closer and closer to her physical limits.

Threatened by the arrival of rival dancer Lily (Kunis), whom she believes is trying to take her place; Nina becomes obsessive and her personality changes. Also blighted by strange visions, dreams and happenings the fine lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur wildly for Nina. Her world grows darker and darker as she begins to destroy her relationships and personality in order to become the black swan. Her story almost mirrors the ballet itself and her transformation from white swan to black is the driving force behind the narrative.

Black Swan was a critical and box office success upon its release and earned itself an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, Aronofsky a nomination for Best Director and Portman a win for Best Actress. Aronofsky’s dark and dynamic vision of ballet is just a visceral and shocking as any of his other films and as always has audiences on the edge of their seats with their toes curling.

Black Swan is a film you must see before you die because it is an unnerving and uncomfortable way to experience the dark world of ballerinas and the efforts they must place upon their bodies and minds in order to achieve the absolute perfection that they strive so hard for.

D.J. Haza

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