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Review: Black Swan

Natalie Portman stars as Nina, a young ballerina who lands the dual roles of the pure White swan and the evil Black swan in a new production of Swan Lake. Nine struggles 'letting go' and becoming the Black swan, but as she does she begins to experience a far darker side of her personality. Firstly, don't be tricked into thinking this a soppy drama about a troubled ballerina, like some have. What we have here is a drama/psychological horror from the exceptional Darren Aronofsky. Anyone aware of The Wrestler, Requiem For A Dream and The Fountain will have a rough idea of what to expect.

Like Aronofsky's previous work, this deals with the subject of obsession - in this case Nina's obsession to give the perfect performance as both the Black and White swans. This obsession slowly destroys her mentally and physically, as well as those around her. With stunning cinematography and Aronofsky's stylish direction this flows seamlessly and perfectly paced for 109 minutes. The use of symbolism and imagery throughout the film is completely striking - particularly the use of mirror's which feature a large part in the film. This is also an eye-opening look at the ballet world - this may appear a graceful and beautiful art, however we see toes get dislocated and the injuries which this extreme art can lead to. There is some striking body horror, highlighting Nina's supposed physical transformation into the Black Swan - such as black feathers appearing.

Portman completely nails the performance, we sympathise with the sweet shy Nina that we are first introduced to - she can barely look the other ballerina's or her teacher in the eye and is very soft spoken. Portman really comes into form though as she begins to experience the darker side and find the Black Swan coming out in her every day life. Also exceptional is the supporting cast, Mila Kunis is stunning as Lily, Nina's rival. Lily likes to experience the more wild side of life - taking drugs and picking up guys, and helps unleash Nina's Black Swan, and also plays a part in her sexual liberation. Vincent Cassel also stars as ballet's arrogant and lustful director, despite some questionable lines, Cassel is pretty perfect in this. We also see Winona Ryder as Nina's jealous predecessor - she's on top form and gives quite a chilling performance. The wonderful Barbara Hershey is also magnificent as Nina's controlling mother, who refuses to let her life - a former ballerina herself, who had to abandon her dreams to raise young Nina.

The only downfall of the film (hence the loss of 0.5) would be certain slightly cringe worthy scenes, that although not intended to, got some pretty big laughs from the audience, which I won't spoil for all you perves out there.

I'm sure we'll see a lot of the Oscars being awarded to Black Swan, which it quite rightly deserves.


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