Contributed By Sharon Chew
Undoubtedly one of Natalie Portman’s most powerful performances, Black Swan is a disturbing and dark portrayal of a ballet dancer’s journey within and eventually out of herself.
Portman plays Nina, who has been picked for the role of Swan Queen in Swan Lake. Innocent and every bit a mother-smothered young girl, Nina receives rave reviews for her performance of the pure White Swan. However, she is equally criticized for her frigidness and her inability to portray the confident seduction of the sensual Black Swan. A perfectionist with a micromanaging mother hovering in the background, Nina begins to experience delusions and hallucinations brought on by her extreme mental pressure.
The movie is captivating, as director Darren Aronofsky effectively and progressively blurs the line between Nina’s imagination and her reality. That is what makes the film truly scary, as it allows the audience to vividly experience what really happens in a delusional person’s psyche—that they believe what they see is real. Now and then, we are left wondering if what happened really happened. Having just watched the horror film The Rite just two days before this, the effect of an uncontrolled mind is doubly hammered into my mind.
Portman aside, the movie is excellently casted, with Mila Kunis playing Nina’s sensual rival, and Barbara Hershey as Nina’s mother; Black Swan is admittedly worth its five Oscar nominations. The only questionable premise I have about the story is that for a girl who exercised such strict self-control, Nina seemed to enter into her reckless stage a tad too quickly. Having said that, the movie is a gripping one, with Aronofsky packing every minute with effective plot development.