Black Swan (2010)
I first heard about Black Swan (2010) when it was mentioned in a crit group session, I didn’t take much notice then, my mind was elsewhere and wasn’t really interested in the film. 3 years later after seeing a range of films I decided to take the chance when it received it network TV première. My first thoughts were this is a film of fierce rivalry between two ballerina’s which to an extent it is. Yet it’s so much more than two women who are polar opposites vying for the lead role in a theatre companies production of Swan Lake. There was a powerful blend of two films The Red Shoes (1948) and All About Eve (1950) that burst onto the screen, with added sex, darkness and power.
Of course all the dancers want this fantastic role, to be centre stage in an iconic and classic ballet. After fighting for the role Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) persuades the director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) to cast the perfection hungry dancer who has the skill but not the passion to take on the role. Through chance she is awarded the role. The hard work is now just beginning at the theatre and at home.
Whilst all the while in the shadows we catch glimpses is fellow dancer and possible rival Lily (Mila Kunis) at first a friendly face of support, but also what Nina aspires to be, perfect on the moves whilst also with the heart for the dual role of the white and black swan. An uneasy relationship forms between the two of them, with a lingering sense of threat at the tip.
The director Thomas Leroy keeps pushing his new muse to get the best out of her, wanting to liberate the still innocent woman, who needs to embrace her sexuality both on and off stage. Something that Nina is unwilling to do with him. On the other-hand the with the help of Lily who wants to bring herself out of the home life that has trapped her as the daughter of a failed ballet dancer, she has to break free.
Troubled with the constant cuts she finds on herself body she enters a surreal world where her perception of the world blurs between the role of the swan and the oestrogen fuelled rivalry that for Nina is long overdue to grow up and away from her mother to be independent, stand alone and become the great dancer she can be. We see a dark and adult world begin to consume this women as she realises and goes over the edge of what she needs to do to stay on top.
At times it’s unnerving to watch these two fighting as reality is blurred by the competitive streaks that fuel them both, taking different approaches to this prized role which they are eyeing up. The lengths they will go to undermine and unnerve each other are staggering and with dramatic effect. This is more than a look into the world of ballet, this is a psycho-political battlefield, all fighting for the attention and glory of a few and the masses who see them perform.
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