Why Black Swan is a fantastic psychological thriller

Black Swan Film Review | The LDN Gal

Darron Aronofsky’s Black Swan Film REVIEW

Darren Aronofsky has created something truly special. The gripping and striking Black Swan is art in its best form. Mixing the mediums of dance and film, he has produced a movie with mass appeal.

The psychological thriller is innovative, based on a subject matter that many would shun away from. Ignorance is not so blissful in this case; to make a judgment on the quality of the film merely on the facts that it is an exploration of ballet would be a rather abrupt decision to make.

The film is based on young Nina (Natalie Portman) , a secretive and vulnerable woman who’s a little too dependent on her mother for comfort. The plot is based upon a production of Swan Lake.

The prestigious New York City ballet company requires a ballerina to be cast as both sides of the Swan Queen. There is a theme of contrast, the pure and delicate white swan in comparison to the seductive black swan.

Nina an adamant and skilled ballerina is desperate for the role. She’s put many years of hard work into the company and needs her break. She conflicts with the confident and whimsical Lily (Mila Kunis), who also wishes to claim the role.

Both girls represent the different personalities required to play the Swan Queen. Nina in graceful desperation is perfect for the white swan and Lily fierce and hard-edged an image of the black swan.

Fierce competition in bLack Swan

Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), the director of the production is a sexual deviant. He presents himself to Nina and makes it evident she must compete and open up to the role of the black swan if she wished to succeed. After a passionate confrontation with Nina, he attempts to tarnish her virtue. On failure to do so, he tells her to explore herself. This is the awakening for Nina and she begins to find a darker side to her personality.

The movie makes an apparent and real reflection of the trails of being a competent ballerina. The film opens us up to a world full of gruelling and painful training sessions, where women’s feet appear distorted and crushed. A world that demands one must be of perfection in body, mind and performance. There is an exploration into eating disorders, self-harm and mental instability. Reflecting that to make it in such a world, you must give everything of yourself.

exploring mental health in Black Swan

We see Nina in her home environment and begin to understand why she is in such a frail state. She is mollycoddled by an overbearing mother. This over protective nature has left Nina in a state of flux. She is expected of highly by her mother, a failed ballerina due to her pregnancy of Nina. As Nina begins to find herself we soon see numerous domestic tensions of what appears to be the behaviours of something expected from a young teenager.

On the succession of achieving the role, Nina is presented to her new glitzy world. This is much to the distress of her predecessor Beth (Winona Ryder), who in turn strikes fears into the vulnerable Nina and is a living example of how both girls are just tools of the trade.

As Nina progresses it becomes apparent that she is a wavering psychotic state. She presents numerous delusions and hallucinates episodes. Her paranoia progresses at the bold Lily. The retorts of Thomas play in her mind, she begins to change and let go of her perfectionist attitude.

a dark coming of age story

As the plot progresses, Lily visits Nina at home, much to the dismay of Nina’s mother. The duo enjoy a drug fuelled and intimate night together. On returning, Nina argues with her mother and the girls lock themselves in Nina’s room.

Later, Nina wakes and Lily is gone. She rushes to the company and is furious to see Lily performing her role. Afterward, Lily picks fun at Nina for what she says was a fantasy sexual engagement.

The night before the first performance, Nina vigorously continues to perfect her routine. In reality, her mentality worsens and faced with severe hallucinations, she flees.

As she arrives home, her body begins to distort and she begins to form as an animalistic swan. On fear of her delusions, she knocks herself out upon her bedpost.

Eventually, Nina wakes to her mother’s controlling nature. She states that she has contacted the company and that Nina will not be at the opening performance. Nina is enraged. She violently removes herself from the home, rushing to the performance and immediately begins preparations.

‘perfect. i was perfect.’

The four acts of the production details the great changes of the Swan Queen. Nina’s hallucinations continue to play tricks on her with drastic consequences. These remaining minutes are Nina’s epiphany. She concludes whispering softly, “I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.”

Black Swan surprises down to the penultimate few seconds. It’s a marvel to watch, surreal and haunting. The actresses dedication to their  roles is evident and it appears Portman and Kunis are professionals of the artform.

The film grips throughout, presenting many moralistic dilemmas. In essence, be who you are, for if you dare to stray from your true self, the results may not be to your liking.

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