By Emma Berkel
Black Swan follows the story of Nina, a young and upcoming ballerina, as she quests for “perfection”. Having caught her director’s eye, she’s cast as the leading role in the ballet Swan Lake, and seeking to prove herself a worthy “Swan Queen”, she endures rigorous practice between encounters with Beth, her company’s aging star ballerina, and Lily, a threatening new dancer. Rapidly, Nina becomes obsessed with her role, and as she tries to embody both the White Swan and the Black Swan, she awakens into the latter’s grittier world.
Just in time to make this season’s list of nominations, Black Swan swept the nation’s theaters by December and with over forty wins is still playing today. Although the film is caught between various genres, it’s best labeled a psychological thriller, and as such the viewer can expect reality to descend into a fantasy as dark as the title.
Black Swan is spotted with visual metaphors which cue the reader in on its modern allegory for the very ballet that Nina obsesses over. Combined, they highlight Darren Aronofsky’s fantastic cinematic vision and call attention to the underlying depth. The film is further marked by its suspenseful build and the brilliant performances by both Natalie Portman (Nina) and Mila Kunis (Lily).
Even though questions remain unanswered by the conclusion, clues can be delightfully discovered, making it a movie worth watching twice, and thus far Aronofsky’s fifth feature film is also his most critically acclaimed.