Black Swan (15)

Film

Thrillers

i3-BS_02703.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Tue Jan 18 2011

It’s best to switch off the more sensible side of your mind, along with any idea that you’re going to experience a documentary-style portrait of the world of ballet, before encountering Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’. It’s a film that really only works if you let yourself be swirled up, like its main character, in a storm of hysteria, paranoia and tears: it’s too impulsive and emotional to be picked apart at the level of logic and too ludicrous to exist in a world other than its own. It’s huge fun, but only if you’re willing to swallow its more bonkers excesses.

‘Black Swan’ gives us a harried, weepy Natalie Portman as Nina, a delicate, overly mothered dancer with the New York City Ballet who cracks up ten times over when she lands the dual roles of the White and Black Swans, Odette and Odile, in a production of ‘Swan Lake’. Realism barely gets a look in as Aronofsky and his team go hell-for-leather in reflecting this young woman’s fractured mental state – and the ballet’s own story and themes – in everything from an invasive, swirling photographic style to the monochrome production design of the office and apartment of her mentor and director, Thomas (pronounced the French way and played by Vincent Cassel), a man as stereotypically ‘European’ as Hercule Poirot. A fan of turtlenecks and indoor scarves, he’s the sort of guy who asks his protegées to masturbate, just to explore their devilish sides.

Or does he? It’s rarely clear what’s real or not in ‘Black Swan’. Aronofsky’s approach to psychological drama – to making real the horrors of the mind – makes the likes of Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ or ‘Repulsion’ look very timid. He doesn’t go for a gradual reveal of insanity. Instead, right from the off, we see Nina tearing off impossible amounts of skin from her fingers and hear awful cracks and snaps as she exercises her feet. From there, all Aronofsky can do is throw taste and subtlety to the wind.

The body horror increases: later, we see Nina’s legs bending and snapping, just as she hallucinates while looking at the walls of the flat she shares with her ultra-protective mother, played as a witch by Barbara Hershey. Her other nemeses are a demonic, newly retired dancer (Winona Ryder) and a pretty new colleague (Mila Kunis). Our view of both is entirely distorted by Nina’s breakdown as she struggles to play both swans and defy Thomas’s concerns that she’s too pure to play the more evil role.

The film’s endless pulp elements (erotica, stabbing, drugs, blood, strangling…) are tempered by the beauty of the story’s context – the music, dancing, costumes – and the film’s ballsy momentum. Yet there’s no escaping that this is high-class trash, however enjoyable. Aronofsky has taken a disturbed psychological state – the neuroses of a fragile artist – and flung it into lurid territory. He’s more concerned with expressing Nina’s madness and reflecting it (and, boy, he likes mirrors) in the world about her than in making any sense of her character or the life of a dancer. But he whips up such an orgy of fun in the process that it’s hard not to tear off your clothes and dive in.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Feb 11, 2011

Duration:

103 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:17
  • 4 star:15
  • 3 star:9
  • 2 star:14
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|186
1 person listening
christoph

to put it in perspective, my wife is the one who likes emotional girl movies, and she wanted her money back, terrible.

christoph

to put it in perspective, my wife is the one who likes emotional girl movies, and she wanted her money back, terrible.

Gillian

If you like a film that endevours to make eroticism and horror acceptable then you will love this film. I felt I wasted my money but thank heaven we are all different.

Gillian

If you like a film that endevours to make eroticism and horror acceptable then you will love this film. I felt I wasted my money but thank heaven we are all different.

Clem

I loved this. I saw it on the first day of release with no idea of what it was about, and it was incredible. Really excitig and thrilling to watch.

Clem

I loved this. I saw it on the first day of release with no idea of what it was about, and it was incredible. Really excitig and thrilling to watch.

marfa

It's so sad - she's stuck in this awful situation battling a terrible mother and a terrible 'father figure'. One is trying to keep her a child, the other is trying to make her grow up in a horribly abusive way. No wonder she is terrified of sex. Whereas Mila Kunis represents someone developing normally - she is happy and cops off with a peer in the dance company - the male lead of Swan Lake. I thought this was brilliant and I felt genuinely sorry for Natlie Portman character. Only thing I couldn't believe is no-one would notice she was going into full-blown psychosis, or care that she was obviously vulnerable in more straightforward ways. Is ballet really that bad?

marfa

It's so sad - she's stuck in this awful situation battling a terrible mother and a terrible 'father figure'. One is trying to keep her a child, the other is trying to make her grow up in a horribly abusive way. No wonder she is terrified of sex. Whereas Mila Kunis represents someone developing normally - she is happy and cops off with a peer in the dance company - the male lead of Swan Lake. I thought this was brilliant and I felt genuinely sorry for Natlie Portman character. Only thing I couldn't believe is no-one would notice she was going into full-blown psychosis, or care that she was obviously vulnerable in more straightforward ways. Is ballet really that bad?

John

I went to see this movie by mistake hoping for ballet, but it was only a pretence for the director to make a horror movie and I was disappointed. I actually hated every minute of it because they managed ton spoil even the dance scenes.

John

I went to see this movie by mistake hoping for ballet, but it was only a pretence for the director to make a horror movie and I was disappointed. I actually hated every minute of it because they managed ton spoil even the dance scenes.

Alexandra Robedeaux

There was nothing in this film that was in any way believable. As a ballet dancer myself, this passionless, vapid girl would have never even made it out of the thrird row of the corps. Ballerina?- come on. This woman would be laughed out of a job at Target. Dancers have to have immense feeling, passion and artistry to even continue as dancers. And to believe that any woman over 22 is that unfamilar with her body is ludicrous, it doesn't exist, Mr. Aronofsky. Unless they're dead!!! And also, to be in dance, yuo need passion and feeling even to be attracted to ballet. What universe do you live in - do you inhabit some planet where no one feels? No one grows? What kind of empty women inhabit your universe??

Alexandra Robedeaux

There was nothing in this film that was in any way believable. As a ballet dancer myself, this passionless, vapid girl would have never even made it out of the thrird row of the corps. Ballerina?- come on. This woman would be laughed out of a job at Target. Dancers have to have immense feeling, passion and artistry to even continue as dancers. And to believe that any woman over 22 is that unfamilar with her body is ludicrous, it doesn't exist, Mr. Aronofsky. Unless they're dead!!! And also, to be in dance, yuo need passion and feeling even to be attracted to ballet. What universe do you live in - do you inhabit some planet where no one feels? No one grows? What kind of empty women inhabit your universe??

Candy

What a load of dribble. One of the worst films ve seen in a long time. Shame on the Baftas and Oscars for including this weak, boring film so badly acted and directed.

Candy

What a load of dribble. One of the worst films ve seen in a long time. Shame on the Baftas and Oscars for including this weak, boring film so badly acted and directed.

Roger

I think I would have enjoyed the film if it weren't for the nauseating camera work. I spent 80% of the time in the auditorium with my eyes closed trying not to be sick! Completely ruined it for me I'm afraid. Will knock it back from 5 to 2 stars for this reason alone.

Roger

I think I would have enjoyed the film if it weren't for the nauseating camera work. I spent 80% of the time in the auditorium with my eyes closed trying not to be sick! Completely ruined it for me I'm afraid. Will knock it back from 5 to 2 stars for this reason alone.

MillyV

Schlock: Terrible but I had a blast Stunning cinematography and art design, fabulous sound effects. The rippling changes of her skin, the fabulous gore, cracking breaking bones, lurking shadows, dopplegangers etc - makes for classic fun - and the 'rolling' scene inthe bar is spot on. However terrible terrible sterorypical acting by most - especially one dimensional Cassell is a huge let down. Being French is no excuse for lack of vocal intonation and variation - and he manages to be worse than all other 'actors portraying choreographer's' before him, yes worse than Douglas. The dialgues veers from fun and plausible to just bad, and the characters serve the story - but are never eplored in a satisfying way. The film is fantastical from the get go, so I left feeling I had been on a marvellous fairground ride, but certainly no sense of havning watched Oscar worthty performances. So Schlock - fun but not all it's cracked up to be.

MillyV

Schlock: Terrible but I had a blast Stunning cinematography and art design, fabulous sound effects. The rippling changes of her skin, the fabulous gore, cracking breaking bones, lurking shadows, dopplegangers etc - makes for classic fun - and the 'rolling' scene inthe bar is spot on. However terrible terrible sterorypical acting by most - especially one dimensional Cassell is a huge let down. Being French is no excuse for lack of vocal intonation and variation - and he manages to be worse than all other 'actors portraying choreographer's' before him, yes worse than Douglas. The dialgues veers from fun and plausible to just bad, and the characters serve the story - but are never eplored in a satisfying way. The film is fantastical from the get go, so I left feeling I had been on a marvellous fairground ride, but certainly no sense of havning watched Oscar worthty performances. So Schlock - fun but not all it's cracked up to be.

Russell

Having been a fan of Natalie Portman's work for years, I was shocked to find her almost unwatchable. It's not a bad film, but equally it's not a good film. It's faintly silly, overblown and as overwrought as the main characters. Vincent Cassel is about the pick of the cast, Mila Kunis is horribly unconvincing, and whilst an emaciated Portman does look suitably delicate and highly strung, it just seems such a waste of great talent.

Russell

Having been a fan of Natalie Portman's work for years, I was shocked to find her almost unwatchable. It's not a bad film, but equally it's not a good film. It's faintly silly, overblown and as overwrought as the main characters. Vincent Cassel is about the pick of the cast, Mila Kunis is horribly unconvincing, and whilst an emaciated Portman does look suitably delicate and highly strung, it just seems such a waste of great talent.

arthousefan

I thought this is an excellent film, with multilayers that one can read whatever way that is most relevant to oneself. I am a little surprised that this is not an European film, as I would not be surprised if it were. To make any progress one must overcome one's own demon; so it is totally believable that so much shown was actually in Nina's mind. The film is fun and appeal to a range of people I am sure, but I hardly watch mainstream films, so I am pleasantly surprised.

arthousefan

I thought this is an excellent film, with multilayers that one can read whatever way that is most relevant to oneself. I am a little surprised that this is not an European film, as I would not be surprised if it were. To make any progress one must overcome one's own demon; so it is totally believable that so much shown was actually in Nina's mind. The film is fun and appeal to a range of people I am sure, but I hardly watch mainstream films, so I am pleasantly surprised.

sandra

fantastic performance from portman, her character she played with all feeling, i could feel what she was going through, cant understand why some comments here didnt understand it, mental pressure or breakdowns can create illusions and bad thoughts, which portman carried off amazingly well,the webbed feet were in her mind,the swan taking over her body,the self harming because of hate for herself and her mother, how anyone couldnt see this , all i can say you werent watching properly, best film iv seen in a long time.

sandra

fantastic performance from portman, her character she played with all feeling, i could feel what she was going through, cant understand why some comments here didnt understand it, mental pressure or breakdowns can create illusions and bad thoughts, which portman carried off amazingly well,the webbed feet were in her mind,the swan taking over her body,the self harming because of hate for herself and her mother, how anyone couldnt see this , all i can say you werent watching properly, best film iv seen in a long time.

j

I found this a fascinating, gripping film. I don't know much about ballet, other than an obvious analogy (the need for Portman's character to express her darker side -repressed sexuality, anger, envy, etc through the black swan) it was merely a visual feast, and not the point of the story. I felt very, very sorry for the character, her fragility and helplessness, and when she metaphorically slayed her competitor/rival it really felt like she had confronted her selfish side, and it was very powerful to see her dance the black swan, eyes glittering, in charge of the stage and herself. It was a fascinating glimpse into paranoia and represssion. Ugliness and beauty were a constant juxtaposition; the beauty of ballerina, the deformity of the feet. It's a very hard, short and unforgiving life for a ballerina. i was quite taken aback by the brutality of it. An excellent film. (Sorry for posting twice- i forgot to give it a rating the first time round!)

j

I found this a fascinating, gripping film. I don't know much about ballet, other than an obvious analogy (the need for Portman's character to express her darker side -repressed sexuality, anger, envy, etc through the black swan) it was merely a visual feast, and not the point of the story. I felt very, very sorry for the character, her fragility and helplessness, and when she metaphorically slayed her competitor/rival it really felt like she had confronted her selfish side, and it was very powerful to see her dance the black swan, eyes glittering, in charge of the stage and herself. It was a fascinating glimpse into paranoia and represssion. Ugliness and beauty were a constant juxtaposition; the beauty of ballerina, the deformity of the feet. It's a very hard, short and unforgiving life for a ballerina. i was quite taken aback by the brutality of it. An excellent film. (Sorry for posting twice- i forgot to give it a rating the first time round!)

Alina

I did not know what to expect . Basic story was good, but in my view and my friends far too much exaggerated,too explicit in certain scenes, unnecessary tricks of ballerina`s mind state far too strong spoilt the good idea of this film.I did not liked how camera was catching walking of the actress uneven, jerky etc. Few jumping scary scenes. Overall good acting.

Alina

I did not know what to expect . Basic story was good, but in my view and my friends far too much exaggerated,too explicit in certain scenes, unnecessary tricks of ballerina`s mind state far too strong spoilt the good idea of this film.I did not liked how camera was catching walking of the actress uneven, jerky etc. Few jumping scary scenes. Overall good acting.

Iron-Mike

The black swan besides being unpredictable and enthralling it is one of the best choreographed films ive seen in ages if you let your mind remain open and absorb the character you almost can feel her confusion,terror and excitement throughout the entire film a definate must see for people who appreciate art,films and and deep thinking stories. Absolutely excellent. 5 stars.

Iron-Mike

The black swan besides being unpredictable and enthralling it is one of the best choreographed films ive seen in ages if you let your mind remain open and absorb the character you almost can feel her confusion,terror and excitement throughout the entire film a definate must see for people who appreciate art,films and and deep thinking stories. Absolutely excellent. 5 stars.

Hugh Janus

I dont understand the negative comments about this film.. I found it and excellent portrayal of ballet in its finest form, it was very interesting to see how turpins were harvested at the turn of the century. This skill has long been lost to modern farming methods. If we are not careful cucumbers will go this way soon!

Hugh Janus

I dont understand the negative comments about this film.. I found it and excellent portrayal of ballet in its finest form, it was very interesting to see how turpins were harvested at the turn of the century. This skill has long been lost to modern farming methods. If we are not careful cucumbers will go this way soon!

Michael

I must confess i've seldom enjoyed myself less at a cinema. It was a charmless portrayal of the world of ballet with all the characters being sad and weird. The plot was unfathernable which always ruins a film for me and there is nothing approaching a single laugh at any point. Frankly you have to be a wierdo yourself to enjoy a film like that.

Michael

I must confess i've seldom enjoyed myself less at a cinema. It was a charmless portrayal of the world of ballet with all the characters being sad and weird. The plot was unfathernable which always ruins a film for me and there is nothing approaching a single laugh at any point. Frankly you have to be a wierdo yourself to enjoy a film like that.

Neil

Simply awesome. Portman's performance is staggering - she is in every scene and truely deserves awards.

Neil

Simply awesome. Portman's performance is staggering - she is in every scene and truely deserves awards.

Davey

A wasted opportunity to study a descent into madness focussed by the blurring of the lines between role and dancer. The film does not seem to know what it is, horror only starting to appear halfway through! And I can get feathers appearing as a metaphor for turning into the black swan but why was the skin peeling from her fingers and her toes bleeding, does that happen to swans? And why would her toes bond together to represent a swans foot, swans surely have longer "toes" not one big one!!! Over indulgent!! Sadly only fair to middling at best!

Davey

A wasted opportunity to study a descent into madness focussed by the blurring of the lines between role and dancer. The film does not seem to know what it is, horror only starting to appear halfway through! And I can get feathers appearing as a metaphor for turning into the black swan but why was the skin peeling from her fingers and her toes bleeding, does that happen to swans? And why would her toes bond together to represent a swans foot, swans surely have longer "toes" not one big one!!! Over indulgent!! Sadly only fair to middling at best!

Lynn

I agree entirely with John O'hanlon a few comments up, I have just used the same words 'boring' and 'indulgent' to my daughter when describing this film. If you enjoy constant close ups of the lovely Natalie Portman looking permanently sad for about an hour and twenty minutes then great! So so slow it was unbelievable. The last twenty minutes were exquisite, but not worth the price for twenty minutes good film making. Oh dear another over rated probably Oscar winning movie.

Lynn

I agree entirely with John O'hanlon a few comments up, I have just used the same words 'boring' and 'indulgent' to my daughter when describing this film. If you enjoy constant close ups of the lovely Natalie Portman looking permanently sad for about an hour and twenty minutes then great! So so slow it was unbelievable. The last twenty minutes were exquisite, but not worth the price for twenty minutes good film making. Oh dear another over rated probably Oscar winning movie.

Show More