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Black Swan

 

Year: 2010 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Darren Aronofsky 
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder  
An image from Black Swan


Review:

I think there are very few films that provide a first viewing experience quite as jaw-dropping as Black Swan. And even more shockingly, this effect fails to diminish with repeat viewings. A truly unique and unforgettable film (and Best Picture snub, if you ask me), Black Swan tells the story of Nina (Natalie Portman) trying to get her big break in the cut-throat world of ballet. She is everything we imagine a ballerina must be – precise, orderly, collected, perfect. But this turns out to be her downfall, as she is tasked with playing the dual character of the Black and White Swans in a production of Swan Lake. She must spend the film searching for the darkness and chaos that the director believes exists inside her, but how far is she willing to go?

A shining example of a 2010s character study if there ever was one, Black Swan is undoubtedly written, directed and acted immaculately, but beyond that, it finds its true success in how flawlessly it manages to place the viewer in the psyche of the lead. The audience follows Nina on her journey, questioning reality along with her, and getting swept up in her ambition, losing all sight of what is true or right. For first-time viewers, look forward to one of the most memorable final moments in film history, and perhaps a general new-found perspective on art and maybe even contemplations about the balance of the Black and White Swan inside each of us, too.

Edvard Gaters

Obsession. Reflection. Corruption. These are the motifs underpinning director Darren Aronofsky’s dark psychological thriller.

Ballet director Thomas (Cassel) retires his aging star Beth (Ryder), and casts Nina (Portman) in her place as prima ballerina in his new production of Swan Lake. She is the perfect White Swan: gracious, modest, pristine. But her Black Swan is underwhelming, void of the sinister seductiveness that Thomas demands for the piece’s villain. Rival newcomer Lily (Kunis), however, embodies the Black Swan’s bleak and brooding beauty, eclipsing Nina’s ability to diversify her talent. Striving to prove herself, Nina takes a fall from grace and submits to temptations of lust, rage, and rebellion. But soon her unrelenting ambition to inhabit the role and deliver the perfect performance begins to overwhelm and possess her...

Black Swan is an accomplished companion piece to Aronofsky’s previous film The Wrestler. Both chart the struggles of driven athletes as they aspire to leave their legacy. But where Mickey Rourke’s wrestler had to overcome his demons of addiction and anger to become king of the ring, Nina must embrace unfamiliar vices in her bid to be crowned Swan Queen. Portman’s performance is remarkable. Moving, daring, and even frightening, it is a career best; exemplifying her talent and dedication, it is thoroughly deserving of the Best Actress award it won at the Oscars.

The tone is chilling. Opening as a fairly familiar stage drama, Black Swan slowly evolves into a character-driven horror, becoming increasingly gripping as you creep towards the edge of your seat. With mirrors blocking every turn, it is impossible to escape the enclosing claustrophobia that this film imposes upon its audience. An intense exploration of the price of success, Black Swan is utterly captivating.

Owen Rye

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Screenings of this film:

2010/2011 Summer Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Summer Term (35mm)
2019/2020 Autumn Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)