Nina Sears (Natalie Portman) is an ambitious hard working dancer in her ballet company and has been chosen to star in their opening show of the season, Swan Lake. She however begins to get paranoid as she sees company newcomer, Lily (Mila Kunis), trying to get her spot as the top dancer.
The film in its simplest form is exactly what Thomas (Vincent Cassel) wanted to do with the play. It’s a stripped down version of the original Tchaikovsky ballet. It expands the story into not only the ballet that’s being put on by the company but is actually the story of the overall film which I love. Darren Aronofsky (probably my more objective favourite working director) found a way to seamlessly transition the stories of the ballet and the dancer who’s staring in the ballet without making it distracting at all.
Many, when watching this movie, like to quote films like The Red Shoes because it went down the same road before, but honestly this movie did what The Red Shoes failed to do well (in my eyes at least). There is never a question as to what Aronofsky’s intentions or where the story is going to go, but like with any good story you just keep wanting to go down further down the rabbit hole because it’s so damn intriguing.
Some of you may be asking why you’re bothering to read this review, I obviously love this movie since it made it to the top of my TOP TEN OF 2010 list, but the truth of the matter of is that it’s even better the second time around. I noticed a lot more visual touches and where the sound mixing made everything a lot more obvious. I noticed a lot more times where Nina’s skin went into this odd ‘rough’ texture as if she was actually a swan in those scenes where she would be imagining her own version of reality and the way that a certain sound would just occur at those specific times. It becomes an interesting game of spot the cinematic details which I always love to see.
Where a film like this shines is with its supporting performances; Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey work perfectly as the princes that Nina is having trying to persuade her to fall for either side of herself, the white and black swan. Erica (Barbara Hershey) is the mother that wants her daughter to be perfect and confines her to this life of dedication and discipline, while Thomas is the one who wants Nina to give in to her darker side and want to be more instinctual. It’s just one more small detail of how Aronofsky was able to embed the ballet into the general story of the film and it’s just beautiful.
While I loved every moment leading up to the final moment of the film I think that the final scene where we actually see the segments of the ballet on screen just so beautiful. The way that the director made the camera follow the action on stage, even earlier in the film when they were just rehearsing, was so emotional for me. I’ve never been a fan of interpretational dance, because I’m not a dancer. However, somehow he made me understand what was happening with every movement on stage and that’s something to be commended.