“Black Swan” – 2010. Dir. Darren Aronofsky

With Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, with Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey.

“I was perfect…”

Coming from the pretty tame, “The Wrestler”, Darren Aronofsky is back doing what he does best; subjecting us to the dark side. His latest film stars Natalie Portman who has lead a very innocent and mundane life as a ballerina, who is in the new version of “Swan Lake” directed by Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) who had just fired his aging starlet Beth (Ryder) and brings in new talent Lily (Kunis). Thomas taps Nina (Portman) to play the Swan Queen, and the Black Swan. As Nina is pushed and pulled by her director Thomas and her mother Erica (Hershey) she begins to let go of her perfect innocence and discovers her dark side.

Watching Nina embrace her dark side is a beautifully painful showcase to witness. She tries to run from it, tries to make it stop, but she can’t. She’s lived the sweet and innocent life at the demand of her mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey). She lives in a “princess room”, painted white and pink, and littered with teddy bears and unicorns. Her room, the bathroom – or for that matter any other room in the house (other than the tripled bolted front door) have no locks on them. When Nina needs privacy in the bathroom, she moves over the hamper that her 100lbs body can move against the door.


Her transformation starts at the pressuring and guidance of Leroy (Cassel), who demands Nina to unleash the black swan. Cassel is so good in this film, he’s a predator that lurks in the distance, and when he strikes, he strikes hard and strikes fast. He has piercing eyes, and a sharp jaw and a small mouth. When he delivers his lines of dialogue, he snips and snaps them. He is in complete control, and he knows it.

There is a scene later on in the film where Leroy has Nina over at his apartment. He tells her that they need to have a very close relationship, a very close bond – he begins asking her about her personal life and than her sex life and asks her to do homework and masturbate, to “unleash”. Leroy verbally molests her in this scene, and it’s terrifyingly erotic to witness.


Natalie Portman gives one of the finest performances that I’ve ever seen. She gives an incredibly fragile and vulnerable performance. She’s the most delicate flower that I’ve ever seen, she’s been afflicted by her mother, and she’s being controlled by her director while exploring and reluctantly embracing her dark side.

You can’t help but love Nina. Seriously, you fall in love with her; watching her sit on the subway, cautiously minding her own business as she listens to her iPod, she softly graces the earlier frames of the film with much perfection and much poise. You can’t help but ache for her, as she is subtly degraded and humiliated by Vincent Cassel (who gives a bold performance – he’s such a fine actor).


Nina is such an incredible character. She is so sweet and harmless, but as her black swan grows – you become terrified of her. I can’t even imagine the emotional toll this took on Portman. Her black swan is awakened mainly through sexuality, mainly from Cassel, but with a lot of help from Lily (Mila Kunis) who share a soon to be infamous sex scene. Yes it’s erotic, and yes – it’s creepy.

Aronofsky has made one of the finest films that I have seen in a long, long time. While this film is hard to enjoy, you can’t help but marvel over what a tour-de-force this film is. This film grabs you from the beginning, and once the credits roll and the third act is accomplished, this film will leave a scar on your soul. It was perfect…


Rating: 10/10


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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

17 thoughts on ““Black Swan” – 2010. Dir. Darren Aronofsky”

      1. Awesome! To be honest, it’s the main reason I’m going to see Black Swan in the first place although it helps that everyone is raving about it 😉

      2. I mean, you won’t go wrong either way. It’s almost like how all those people paid to see “I Am Legend” so they could see the premier of “The Dark Knight” trailer, and than left the movie after the preview.

  1. I still hate you for seeing this before I did. Who knows when it will come to Charlotte?!?

    But I’m very excited to see what Portman does with the part. I could see that she’d do repressed ballerina on the brink of a psychotic break very well. I love that she takes all kinds of crazy and eclectic parts.

  2. Finally got to read your review (I saw the movie yesterday). First of all, it’s a well-written review and you convey how much you loved it well 😉 Now, on to the movie, I enjoyed it although I thought it was only a high brow horror movie that wasn’t particularly moving or deep. Natalie Portman is certainly outstanding and so is the rest of the cast. I also do have to commend Aronofsky for knowing exactly how to end the movie on a haunting note. It was a 7 for me.

  3. Really enjoyed this movie, but I agree with Castor that it’s essentially a well-made trashy horror movie without a lot of character depth. It’s perfect as is though, I wouldn’t like it as much with more depth to be honest.

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