“The only person standing in your way is you.” – Thomas Leroy
While Black Swan revolves around the world of ballet it’s far from the thing that drives this marvellous piece of work forward. So, if ballet really isn’t for you, then you should still not overlook this film; there’s a great blend of tension, symbolism and genuine horror in Black Swan that makes it, for me, the best film of 2010.
Much praise goes out to Natalie Portman for playing Nina, a character whose personality develops so much over the 1 hour 40 minutes run-time that you need a great actress in order to pull it off. She starts as this driven and determined dancer and slowly becomes the rebellious girl that the role of the Black swan requires. Portman portrays this seamlessly. You really believe the character can change in the ways she does.
When the credits role it’s obvious that Black Swan is a tough film to figure out, but the theme of perfection being self-destruction is key. Nina has always strived to be perfect in her dancing, her technique flawless with an unmatched amount of control. Chosen as the Swan Queen in a new version of Swan Lake, Nina is ideal as the White swan, but becoming the Black swan escapes her. She struggles to break out of her skin, become the raw, imprecise dancer that the role demands.
Suddenly perfection isn’t enough. She becomes obsessed with it, ruled by it to the point of psychological destruction. Shown through some subtle but unnervingly tense scenes, the collapse of her mental state is disturbing but captivating to us. You’ll jump, you’ll shiver, you might even scream, but all the time you’ll be constantly gripped by Nina’s downfall. Aronofsy’s subtle but incredibly atmospheric sense of direction paints a picture of the dual personality that Nina is sinking in to.
There aren’t many films that have this amount of depth to them and this theme of seeking perfection leading you down a road to self-destruction really resonates with me. You could say Black Swan is about many things; sexuality, the fall of the talented and famous, a “coming of age story”. Ideas on what Black Swan is about can and will be constantly debated, making it a film that will be remembered, even if it’s only me that does! But I doubt that…