This movie really left me thinking as well as feeling somewhat paranoid myself, which is unusual as I am generally very into thrillers.
It is powerful on so many different levels, and apart from being beautifully shot, its intensity not only keeps the viewer engaged; it creates a sort of state of strong yet long-lasting emotion. We as the audience start to associate with a character that's really not even plausible, or in any way positive. Do we feel sorry for Nina Sayers, the "Swan Queen"? Possibly, at times. But generally, we become immersed in her world of illusory, destructive visions.
I was surprised at the fact that this movie takes it to a very personal level. It is more about Nina's struggle vs herself rather than external factors. (And in that way I found the short synopsis given on the internet misleading). Yes, there is a rival ballerina, but in the end of the day, it is Nina's own mental issues and her perception of herself that are at stake.
Now, there are parts that felt artificial/not crucial to the story to me, such as the scenes in the hospital. I also felt that the relationship with the mother is highly important here, and complex. So I was disappointed that in the end, apart from the one shot of her sitting in the audience, there isn't any closure. The mother is extremely caring for her daughter, yet she is portrayed as this almost evil character ("TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT"). Then again, is it just the way Nina sees her? Is the mother still haunted by her own career in ballet? I think, the mother-daughter relationship could've been explored further.
At the same time, the acting in this movie is absolutely stunning. When Portman looks at herself in the mirror with bloodshot eyes, I could really feel the intensity of the moment, and that Nina is constantly on edge. She tries to control herself and her life. She wants to be perfect. But realistically, Nina has a very inverted version of what 'perfect' is. She is constantly in conflict with herself, whether it be the look of her own body (here we wonder if she is bulimic as well), her age, or sexuality. She is so uncomfortable, that it becomes a physical issue where she actually hurts herself.
This movie isn't necessarily about 'ballet', it is entirely about Nina. Especially after seeing the ending of the film, I think that this is a movie about a delusional, extremely 'backwards' and haunting world that Nina lives in. It's her world, her dreams, and ultimately her nightmares. Nina can't take stress very well, and she is obviously not suited for the profession. Some will argue that it an 'artistic frustration' and in the end she does the job. However, this movie almost screams "facts aside, look closer! Focus on the emotion". It is no mistake that we don't get to see much through other character's eyes. We are forced to watch it as Nina.
"Black Swan" is one of those movies that you need to see, as soon as possible, while it's still out in the theatres. Whether I liked it or not, I would recommend it to anyone who's into film as an art form. I predict lots of fierce discussion around it.
Alright, first off, I did tick off the spoiler alert, so do not read this if you are hoping to be surprised by the events of the film-- (for those of you, I will just say go watch it, it's great!)
This film most definitely tries to be controversial on many levels. Racism, war, pedophilia, cultural differences, you name it.. Yet one of the most enjoyable things about it for me was the fact that it manages to give a very honest and sincere portrayal of a young girl's life.
Jasira isn't an innocent thirteen year old, no matter how hard her father tries to make her 'proper'. She wants to know what's going on, she wants to experience new things, and isn't ashamed of it. Now, is that so bad? Of course, she does come off naive, and multiple times I caught myself saying "oh come on, don't you know better..." But in the end, it isn't the rebellious force that's driving her. She is curious, young, and she knows she is attractive. Jasira gets bombarded by adults' visions and opinions of proper ways to behave (which are often, ironically, taken to an extreme where the adults are shown as "hardly responsible, hardly caring wine-tasters). Moreover, the boy she likes will only 'forgive her' if she has sex with him. This is a portrait of a girl who is lost in between all these different perspectives. Is having sex the right way to compensate for refusing to see a black boy due to father's restrictions? Is rape still illegal if the girl wants to have sex? In the end of the day, does she even enjoy sex? These are the questions I had while watching the movie, and a lot of it was left for the viewer to interpret, which is one of the hallmarks of Alan Ball's storytelling.
I would recommend this movie to people who enjoy a sincere narrative drama, with lots of insights into the lead character's feelings. It is a perfect film to show twelve-thirteen year old girls as well, as a means of education by example. This movie doesn't have a completely unique, never-done before story, but it will make one think. I personally think a lot of it comes from Summer Bishil's fantastic performance.
The only negative part for me was that I kept comparing it to "American Beauty" because of Alan Ball's style as well as a similar soundtrack. To me, that made this movie less exciting, as I find it still a bit dull compared to "American Beauty". However, here I imagine I would be quite biased, as that film has been my favourite for a while. That's the only reason I'm giving it a four.
--Put in short: definitely watch this film, especially if you are someone's daughter/mother.