I'd been meaning to go see this film ever since Christmas. I'd heard some buzz that it was dark but very good, and I love dark but very good films. I also had a feeling that it was getting the Oscar buzz, and I really want to see more of the Oscar nominated films this year in order to better judge for myself which films deserve the Oscar.
In a word, Black Swan was 100% dark but very good. At first, I wasn't sure I'd like it. I knew this was set in the world of Ballet, but it wasn't until I'd say 15 minutes into the film that it started grabbing my attention. Natalie Portman plays Nina, a young dancer determined to win the title role in her ballet company's production of Swan Lake. But, she faces a major obstacle in that the director thinks she's perfect for the role of the White Swan, pure and innoent, but he feels she lacks the abandon and ability to portray the dark twin, the Black Swan. When Nina becomes determined to convince the director that he's wrong about her, her life begins to mimic the story of the White Swan and the Black Swan.
This movie has strong Oscar potential for a number of things, it's an artistic film instead of a blockbuster, it has a strong cast of actors who are known for their blockbuster roles but take the independant films for their ability to break the stereotype, and it has a director who's both a fan and critic favorite. However, this film deserves the Oscar buzz and (hopefully) the nominations it will get. Aronofsky has provided a film that's dark, but relatable. Portman delivers a performance that shows she's more than just a pretty face, and the entire cast work together like an ensemble cast should to provide a very thought-provoking picture with a cautionary tale.
This film also does something else that I'm fond of in movies. It provides strong hints to a bigger story but leaves a majority of it open to the interpretation of the viewer. This is one of those films that had I gone to see it with friends, we would have wanted to discuss it for a few hours later. That to me is a good film. So many films that come out today are either horrible leaving a bad taste in my mouth or just all right- a type of film that while I don't necessarily hate it, I can't say that I particularly liked it either. When a film comes along that makes me think, I tend to like it because it gets me out of my head for a little bit and yet gives me something to think about at the same time.
As far as the dark side of the film goes, it definitely isn't for everyone and is by far not appropriate for anyone under the age of 16 at least. Some of the images of this film are enough to make even an adult used to violence in movies cringe. Also, if you are one of those that can't handle physical pain, even when it's someone else's pain, then you might need to be prepared to close your eyes a lot. It's hard for me to describe these dark images without spoiling the movie, but I will say that these images aren't there for shock value, they serve to explain the mindframe of the characters. As far as sex goes, while there is no nudity, there are definitely some sexual situations.
If you're a fan of movies such as Requiem for a Dream, I would definitely recommend this picture. With a solid story, good directing, and outstanding performances, especially Natalie Portman in the lead role, Black Swan is definitely going into my best of the year list. Only problem I'm faced with now is, do I include it as the best of 2010, since it made it's debut in 2010, or do I include it in 2011 because that's when I saw it?