To begin with, Daren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” could easily be a dark and scary tribute to the life of a ballerina, or any real dancer for that matter. The devotion and commitment this art form requires more often than not ends up consuming a dancer completely. After “Requiem for A Dream” and “The Wrestler”, the directors’ penchant for exposing the dark side of human nature is no big secret. The expectations from the director are set at such a high bar that some disappointments are a given. “Black Swan” employs too many old school techniques to bring out the psycho factor. However, it’s done with such finesse and other worldly beauty that you can’t help but be awed and disturbed at the same time.
Nina is a hard working ballerina with psychopathic tendencies that are hidden from the world. In an opportunity of a lifetime, she is chosen by artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) as swan queen in the tragic production- Swan Lake. The part requires Nina to get in touch with her dark side in order to play both the black and the white swan. The technically perfect and virginally fragile Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan. Lily (Mila Kunis), on the other hand, is a bold, edgy and sensual new dancer who personifies the Black Swan. Nina strikes up a strange friendship/rivalry with Lily to help her play the Black Swan with conviction. She needs to let go of all her inhibitions, rigidity and poise to play the Black Swan. Slowly and steadily the part begins to consume her. Swan Lake transcends her reality and fuels her metal state of mind to get worse. She loses track of what’s real and what’s in her troubled head. Her seamlessly intertwined life is both devastating and poetic. Swan Lake finally brings out the darkest side in her that ends in a spectacularly disturbing crescendo that leaves you speechless.
Portman is perfection as the troubled and fidgety Nina. Cassel fits into the role of the mentor with provocative techniques like second skin. But Mila Kunis as Lily takes you by surprise with her effortless portrayal of the seductive personification of the Black Swan. With award winning performances and a breath taking narrative flow, Black Swan is definitely worth your time. But for fans and followers of Daren Aronofsky, despite the surreal and stunning imagery, it’s predictable and more conventional that it should be.
Verdict: To put it simply – It’s not critically acclaimed for nothing, don’t miss it.