Black Swan film review

I’ll warn you now. There will be spoilers in this post. Admittedly there’s not a massive plot point like Shutter Island that I could completely ruin, but there are plenty of twists and turns in Black Swan which you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you don’t see them coming and I am going to talk about them. You’ve been told.

Black Swan is the tale of Nina (Natalie Portman) who is a highly accomplished but slightly dull ballerina with a New York dance company. She longs for bigger roles but she lacks the passion and abandonment that the other dancers do so she’s always sidelined in favour of someone ‘sexier’ and a lot less OCD. When the company’s star performer Beth (an ‘Is it her? It looks like her…’ performance from Winona Ryder) retires, the artistic director Thomas (Vincent Cassel) decides that they will be performing Swan Lake. Obviously Nina wants the part of the Swan Queen but Thomas favours sexy dancers like Lily (Mila Kunis- yes Meg Griffin) because he needs someone that can dance the pure and virginal role of the White Swan but who can also manage to represent the character’s change into the dark and sexual Black Swan. He tries to seduce Nina to make her all sexy but she’s not having any of it. The roles are announced and Nina is sure she isn’t going to be the Swan Queen, but lo and behold, Thomas has picked her anyway. Hmmm.

By this point in the film you’ll have started to realise that Nina isn’t well and things are about to get weird. There are constant references to her scratching herself and scenes of her overbearing mother crying in her creepy creepy bedroom full of really bad portraits of Nina. Lily takes her out for drinks and drugs and they end up back at Nina’s mum’s house having a lovely lesbian romp. Extremely hot by the way. Many reviews I’ve read so far have said that this scene is misogynistic, porny and exploitative. As a woman, and a lesbian woman I can say that no, it’s not. Well, it’s a little porny, but what’s the harm in that? It’s just two really hot women having some really hot sex. Good watchin’ I say. Also, it’s kinda important to the story because Nina’s all virginal until this point and this scene spells the start of her descent. I didn’t know how I felt about that image at the time- lesbian sex=journey to the dark side- but it turns out that Nina hallucinates the whole thing anyway so I sort of can’t be cross with it. So I won’t.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot the wanking bit. Nina has a wank. Potentially her first one ever because she seems to just lay on her hand for a bit then gyrate. Still, it looked lovely and she was having a nice time. Sadly her mother was also in the room asleep in a chair. Reminded me a bit of Switchblade Romance where the girl frigs herself to the gentle strains of reggae.

Anyway, I digress. And I’m going to speed this up because the speed of the film jumps about a million notches after all of the cunnilingual action. The company rehearse for Swan Lake and Nina is pushed and pushed to ‘let go’ of herself otherwise her Black Swan is just not going to be good enough. Which is not really very good advice, because when she does let go she starts to get a lot more crazy. I don’t want to give the whole thing away, but essentially Nina starts to become the Black Swan. Feathers an’ all. Opening night and Nina dances the White Swan perfectly then during the interval does a murder (or does she? dun dun dunnnnnnn) and dances the Black Swan incredibly with all of the passion and anger and abandon that was being forced on her all along….

And I’m going to leave you with a cliffhanger. I really don’t want to spoil how this ends- because you really should just go and see this because it is MAGNIFICENT. I didn’t expect I was going to see Save The Last Dance, but I really didn’t expect this to be a horror film. Portman is incredible. Not just the dancing- which is completely her- but everything. This is a really tense story with quite a slow build-up but she manages to keep you with her the entire way. I’ve always quite liked her as an actress but if she doesn’t get the Oscar for this I can promise I’ll be complaining about it at length. She manages to make you completely believe the character and I was gripped throughout; even when Nina starts doing some real crazy things, I was right there with her and nothing felt jarring or out of place.

Everyone else in this gives a really solid performance but Natalie Portman is the film. I honestly cannot gush enough about her performance and her dance as the Black Swan moved me to tears.

Seriously, go and see it. Today. Don’t go and read another review that tells you the ending; go and actually see it. I’m not sure who I’d say this film is for. 99% of the audience at the cinema yesterday were women, but you definitely don’t have to be a ballet fan to enjoy this and I think men will like this just as much. Although I should say that if anyone is hoping for some lesbian titillation you should probably just stick to X Tube because you’ll be missing the point entirely. If you appreciate good cinema, tense storytelling, don’t mind some really gross and gory bits, can put up with a few scares and quite fancy Natalie Portman then this will be your perfect film.

5 out of  5 Yoshi Eggs

There are some unexplained plot points and the beginning is a tad slow, but stick with it and this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Natalie Portman has established herself as a leading lady- no longer just Padmé- she could potentially be massive after this.