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“You can’t tear your eyes away” (Entertainment Weekly) from this “wicked, psychosexual thriller” (Daily Variety) starring ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER Natalie Portman* and directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler ). Portman delivers “the performance of her career” (Vanity Fair ) as Nina, a stunningly talented but dangerously unstable ballerina on the verge of stardom. Pushed to the breaking point by her driven artistic director (Vincent Cassel) and the threat posed by a seductive rival dancer (Mila Kunis), Nina’s tenuous grip on reality starts to slip away – plunging her into a waking nightmare.
||Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder|
||AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen|
|Number of Discs:
||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|DVD Release Date:
||March 29, 2011|
|Average Customer Rating:
|| based on 646 reviews|
Average Customer Review:
( 646 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
292 of 383 found the following review helpful:
Nothing short of brilliantDec 03, 2010
By C. Sawin
Darren Aronofsky has been circling movie news sites pretty frequently as of late. He recently signed on to direct the stand-alone sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (appropriately titled The Wolverine). He also developed a rather large and devoted fanbase over the course of directing fantastically surreal films such as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Wrestler, but his psychological thriller Black Swan has also been gaining quite a bit of steam leading up to its December 3rd release. Despite Aronofsky's already well-established reputation and the rather high anticipation for the film, Black Swan still delivers a product that is even better than expected.
Like most ballerinas, Nina (Portman) lives, breathes, and is completely devoted to dance. Artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) is preparing a new spring production of his interpretation of Swan Lake. Nina is next in line to become prima ballerina after the former dancer to hold that spot, Beth Macintyre (Ryder), reluctantly retires. Everything seems to be shifting in that direction until a rather unorthodox, provocative, and unstable (in a dangerous kind of way) dancer named Lily (Kunis) arrives. Lily seems to have an eye for Nina's spot as soon as she walks through the door. Thomas begins to see Nina as the White Swan, which signifies innocence and perfection and Lily as the Black Swan, which is more sensual and deceptive. The problem is that one dancer is required to play both parts. Other than the stiff competition she has to deal with, The Swan Queen role begins to take its toll on Nina who begins to think Lily wants even more than her spot in the production. Nina's obsessive behavior leads to her releasing her dark side that she must now struggle to control.
Aronofsky has always had an exceptional eye for cinematography in his films. His use of micro-photography in The Fountain made the entire film a visually stunning spectacle that will stand the test of time while something like a someone's pupil dilating or a drug deal gone bad in Requiem for a Dream is memorable because of the way and angle Aronofsky shot it rather than relying on its disturbing content to make the scene a classic. Black Swan is no different. Being placed behind Nina whenever she heads to the dance venue gives the viewer a rather unique third person perspective that also gives the impression that you're walking right behind the main character of the film. The intense dream sequences are also shot in a way that flawlessly blur the line between reality and hallucination. Is this really happening or is it all a figment of Nina's deteriorating imagination? Figuring that out is half the film's charm.
The extraordinary main cast is the main ingredient to the film being as great as it is though. The key players all seem to have this twisted side to them that is nearly the exact opposite of the way they first appear to be, which coincides with the Swan Lake theme. Winona Ryder steals most of the screen time she's given whether she's trashing her dressing room, yelling obscenities in Portman's face, or sitting in a hospital room. Even though Mila Kunis seems to play nothing more than her role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall to the most extreme degree on the surface, it's the edge she's given that results in unpredictability for her character. While Vincent Cassel's performance is strong thanks to his sensual reputation with his dancers and Barbara Hersey is both charming and disturbing as Nina's mother who seems to secretly be trying to live in her daughter's dance shoes after a missed opportunity in her past, it's no surprise to hear that Natalie Portman is the heart of the film. Nina is so consumed with dance that she keeps pushing herself even when her mind and body begin to show her that she's had enough. Her breakdowns are heartbreaking and engaging to watch while her transformation by the end of the film can best be described as a monstrous beauty. It's all thanks to Portman's powerful, phenomenal, tour de force performance.
While some might not be surprised that Aronofsky has created yet another masterpiece, this may be his most solid and well-rounded film to date. Black Swan is a beautiful, disturbing, and captivating work of art that features gorgeous camera work, an excellent and mindbending story, and what is perhaps the performance of Natalie Portman's career. It's hard to argue with Black Swan being the best film of the year.
124 of 168 found the following review helpful:
The Dark And Dangerous Delirium Of The DanceDec 21, 2010
By K. Harris
With this dark and audacious look at artistry and dance, bad boy auteur Darren Aronofsky once again pushes a film's intensity past all point of reason. "Black Swan" will be alternately hailed a masterpiece and an over-indulgent piece of excess. Or, more appropriately, perhaps it is a masterpiece of excess. More akin to the fantastical setting of "The Fountain" than to the confrontational realism of "The Wrestler," Aronofsky has created a remarkably vivid bit of lunacy with "Black Swan." And to be fair, I think he absolutely succeeds in what he has set out to do--creating a hyper dramatic nightmare that blurs the lines between reality and madness. Thematically, many films have covered the same ground--but few so visually, stylishly, or in so unapologetic a way. No matter how many films Aronofsky unleashes on the world, I will always hold the feverish "Requiem For a Dream" closest to my heart--but for visceral thrills, "Black Swan" rates a very high second.
Equal parts "The Turning Point," "All About Eve," and "Repulsion," "Black Swan" tells the story of a ballerina struggling for perfection. Natalie Portman is cast as the dancer given the shot of a lifetime--to play the lead in a new revival of "Swan Lake." It's a dream part, but one that is fraught with peril. The director, Vincent Cassel, thinks Portman is perfect for the technical aloofness of the program's White Swan but lacks the fire and abandon when the dance transforms her into the Black Swan. And Portman pushes herself and pushes herself, to the point that her body is manifesting strange physical trauma. Cassel tries to unleash the passion of the Black Swan while the company's newest dancer (Mila Kunis) seems to embody the darker freedoms that Portman needs to embrace to be successful. And the more Portman throws herself into the role mentally and physically, the film starts to push into the territory of unrepentant psychological thriller.
Portman's descent into madness is exquisitely uncomfortable and off kilter. As the film becomes progressively violent and unpredictable, the lines between what is real and what is imagined become impossible to untangle. Aronofsky stages it all like a brilliantly choreographed high wire act. If you go with the flow, you'll be caught up in a thrillingly original nightmare. Portman has never been better. She pushes herself both physically and psychologically here, and hers is surely one of the most heartrending and affecting performances of the year. Cassel is perfect straddling the line between mentor and villain, Kunis has just the requisite wildness, and Barbara Hershey goes for broke as Portman's domineering mother. However, in approximately three minutes of screen time, it is Winona Ryder (as an aging dancer replaced by Portman) that provides one of the film's most indelible performances.
That said, I did love "Black Swan." I won't say that it's brilliantly filled with deep meaning--but I will say that it's brilliantly entertaining. The dancing is perfection and the final performance is absolutely chilling, truly not something to be forgotten! A great score (it's hard to go wrong using Tchaikovsky), dynamic cinematography, top notch performances, fantastic visual effects all combine to make this one of the truly memorable films of 2010. Let's hope Aronofsky never loses his touch for demented fever dreams--even as he's moving into Wolverine territory. KGHarris, 12/10.
15 of 19 found the following review helpful:
A Tale of ObsessionJun 03, 2011
It's obvious that this is not going to be a happy story. There are no surprises, there is no sugar-coating, just the relentless tension of watching an uptight woman-child lose what little mental stability she has. This is a trip into the lacuna of obsession that will speak to you if you've ever been there or have watched someone you love lose themselves in their myopic pursuit of perfection. But you don't need to have been there to empathize with Nina, you just have to be willing to accept that some people go cuckoo when their self-worth has been built upon something as precarious as the approval required to succeed as a professional artist.
What I love is that this movie doesn't glorify Nina's self-destruction, it just shows you in "full-frontal" style brutality what it's like to be in her (toe)shoes. At least that's what I got from watching it three times.
Don't write Black Swan off because it's one of those "arty" movies. You don't need to be "highbrow" or able to deconstruct every scene to enjoy how beautifully done it was either. Think of it as Fear & Loathing with ballerinas and no attorneys. FYI, If you're one of those "practical" people that has a hard time understanding situations that are foreign to you, you might want to move along as this probably won't seem realistic to you.
6 of 7 found the following review helpful:
BLACK SWAN GETS INSIDE YOUJan 26, 2012
By J. Worley/California
The greatness of Black Swan lies in its power to evoke. This review is sort of about all the other reviews. Like a flawed gemstone, what you see depends upon what facet you look at. Reviews that love Black Swan or hate it show the reviewers often going through a process of struggle to come to grips with Black Swan and express their judgments. Director Darren Aronofsky drives a stiletto into your mind with his vast store of cinematic tricks; your reaction may be negative. Deciding what is reality puts your mind in an uproar. Because of the constant close camera work on Natalie Portman, I felt the film was emotionally grueling while visually enthralling. The ending is a head-spinner. How well you can tolerate ambiguity, disturbing images, multiple themes, and so on, will determine whether you like it or not. Overall, I thought Black Swan was a difficult, but compelling experience.
The film rests mainly on the phenomenal artistic control displayed by Natalie Portman. Her gradual slide from White Swan to Black is a tremendous acting achievement. Her physical effort in the role of Nina is reminiscent of Robert DeNiro's "Raging Bull". Her performance draws strength from a superb supporting cast headed by Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, and Mila Kunis. Others have discussed technical aspects of Black Swan better than I can.
Before I say what I think Black Swan is about, let me say that Black Swan operates on many levels at once. You can say it's art house porn and be correct, and say it is a meditation on the pursuit of perfection and also be correct. Here the film's ambiguity wraps itself around you and starts to squeeze.
Black Swan is encoded with all sorts of symbols and images (particularly mirrors) you may pick up on. Some are blatantly, crudely obvious, like the winged tattoo on rival Lily's back (Mila Kunis). Others, like the rave scene in the nightclub, are not apparent unless you stop-frame the sequence and see just what is spilling out of Nina's psyche. Things Lily says to Nina are often prophetic.
The opening dance/dream sequence defines Nina's baseline mental state: virginal innocence that flees from sexuality by transforming into a safe, pure White Swan. Compare that sequence with dance director Thomas' (Vincent Cassel) sexually harassing Nina later on to get Nina to express passion in her dancing, and you get a sense that there is a lot of sophisticated overlapping going on between Nina's mental state and the Swan Lake storyline.
When Nina finishes performing the Black Swan coda in the film's finale, we see two enormous winged shadows behind her as she basks in triumph before a wild audience. This suggests maybe she has reached some sort of spiritual equilibrium between her light and dark side while also being totally insane. Other clues are in her name: 'Nina" means 'little girl' in Spanish, as other reviewers have noted. Also, 'Nina' could be a nod to prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, as perfect a ballerina as there ever was. When Nina goes to work, in the film's beginning, she is wrapped in feathery, downy neck warmers. The film is rich with possible clues to completing the Nina puzzle.
Okay, so what is Black Swan really about? It's about a 'chick' desperately trying to break out of her shell so she can flap her wings and leave her mother's nest. Remember, Black Swan is a flawed gem. Turn it another way you will see something else.
6 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Another triumph for AronofskyJan 04, 2011
By Erik Bateson
Natalie Portman stars as Nina, a ballerina fighting for the top part in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake." She replaces an older ballerina (Winona Ryder), but not without competition from a younger doppelgänger (Mila Kunis). It is similar to director Darren Aronofsky's previous film "The Wrestler," in that it is about someone who earns a living from their body (most of Nina's dancing was done by Portman herself, and it is excellent), the stress aging has on their careers, and the fear of becoming irrelevant. However, this film is closest in tone to Aronofsky's second (and best) film "Requiem for a Dream," in that, while you may not want to watch it again for a while, it is a thoroughly engrossing and heartbreaking portrayal of someone on a downward spiral. Hypnotic and brilliant. A strange, sad and great film.
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