Black swan follows the story of Nina Sayers who after years of hard work is finally chosen to play the lead part of the Swan Queen in Tchaikovskys famous Swan Lake. In this ballet, a princess, Odette gets transformed into a white swan by a sorcerer and she can get back her human form only if she finds true love. A prince falls in love with her but is tricked by the sorcerer into promising marriage to his evil daughter Odile instead. The prince realises the deception just in time and the white swan and prince die and ascend into heaven.
The Director wants Nina to play both the white and the black swan but accuses her of being too frigid. In an attempt to become both personalities and achieve perfection as a dancer Nina slowly loses her mind. The film touches on the tragedy of dancers who were once celebrated but have to retire (Winona Ryder, unrecognizable but vicious as Beth the ex lead dancer). Nina thinks another dancer Lily is plotting to take her role and becomes increasingly obsessed with her role.
The film is visceral to say the least. Ballet is hypnotic, magical and appeals straight to your heart. Tchaikovskys music is so haunting and so effective in churning your emotions that you become part of the struggle, sweat, tears and fears of the dancers.
Natalie Portman as Nina excels. Statuesque as a prima ballerina, she is vulnerable, fragile,obsessed and caught in the limiting web of a dancers world. Mila Kunis as Lily is an effective counterfoil as the technically imperfect but naturally talented dancer who has a life outside her dance. The Director of the Company (Vincent Cassel) and Ninas mother (Barbara Hershey) are the two other people who populate this narrow world and they both are tremendous.
I wrote last time about movies that entertain or educate when speaking about Rabbit Hole. Well, this one does both. It lets you see with white light clarity the world of ballet and give you heart stopping moments in doing so. When the movie ended I was left with a muddled head and Tchaikovskys music flowing through my veins.
This is a very, very intense movie. My friend needed a chocolate gelato after the movie to recover from it. I whole heartedly urge you to see it for an experience that will stay with you for a long time.