Fox Searchlight Pictures, Protozoa Pictures, Phoenix Pictures

Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Millepied, Ksenia Solo, Kristina Anapau, Janet Montgomery, Sebastian Stan, Toby Hemingway, Sergio Torrado, Mark Margolis, Tina Sloan

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a ballet dancer. She’s part of a New York City ballet company run by a harsh master Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). Like many ballet dancers she is obsessed with ballet and it’s the only thing in her life. She is so consumed with dance that she thinks of little else. She wins the role of the lead in Swan Lake over Beth (Winona Ryder) who has had a strange accident. But Thomas does not think she’s quite perfect. Nina is always perfect, so it drives her mad. He says that it’s very difficult to dance the swan princess because you have to dance the White Swan for which she is perfect, but also the Black Swan who is sensual and tempestuous. Nina can handle the sweet and demure white swan, but she’s having trouble with the black one. Nina feels guilt over the fact that Beth has been replaced, and she feels somehow responsible, but she also has a rival, Lily (Mila Kunis). Lily is a strange case, as sometimes she seems perfectly happy that Nina is the lead, but at others she seems desperate to replace her in the role. Also, Nina has a overbearing and demanding mother played by Barbara Hershey who is very controlling of everything in Nina’s life.

This is a complex picture. I guess ballet is difficult to watch and understand for some people, and this is certainly difficult to understand. I think much of it is not really so much a story as an allegory and similar to the art form it uses, it also uses figurative characters for purposes and nothing is really as simple as it seems. I don’t want to go too deeply into what happens as it would spoil the story, but nothing is as it appears. And when you are through, it’s highly unlikely you will know what really happened and what was dreamed or imagined. Much of the movie is based upon dreams and imagination.

Nina is a very complex person. Her mentor is trying to get her to come out of her innocent child like virginal place and express sensuality. But she is so confused she doesn’t know where to go, and Thomas is not after her himself, just wanting her to lighten up a bit and express the sensual side. She is so obsessed by perfection, and any little failure is more than she can face, so as a result, she goes deeper and deeper into her inner core. Her mother is a strange character. Is she crazy? Is she protecting Nina, or abusing her? You’ll come to your own conclusions I suspect. The ending is very strange and beautiful. The dance in this film is very beautiful. But the ending is so bizarre that you will never know for sure whether it’s the truth or not.

So, if you are a ballet lover, then go see it. It truly shows the sacrifice that it takes to be superior in any field. If you like your movies dark and deep, this is also a good option. But it’s not for the general public as it is very deep and dark. It’s not a relaxing visit to see the Nutcracker by any means. It’s a strong mystery, horror, psychological thriller. I rate it in the middle because I wasn’t blown away completely, but I did enjoy it, and I’m sure it’s something I will be thinking about for a long while.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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