Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman - Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) has sacrificed plenty and pushed herself hard with the aid of her pushy mother to become a ballet dancer and now all that hard work and dedication could be about to pay off as Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel - Derailed) is looking to cast a new Swan Queen. The trouble is that whilst Nina is perfect for the part of the White Queen she doesn't have the darkness to play the dual part of the Black Queen and finds her self feeling threatened by the arrival of the sexier and more confident Lily (Mila Kunis - Date Night). Having won the part Nina's already fragile state brought on by her need to be the best becomes pushed to the limit as she has strange visions and embraces her dark side.
I have always had concerns about modern movies which get lots of positive reviews as I feel that some have been written by those who dare not speak their mind and just want to echo the views of a major critic. It is why I stayed away from Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" because I was aware that this was not your usual sort of movie which would appeal to the masses, it had an artsy side and I had serious doubts over whether it was as good as everyone made it out to be, although trust me there are some who really dislike it. So having finally spared the time to watch "Black Swan" I am torn because as a piece of movie making "Black Swan" is impressive, it has a great look and a certain amount of intrigue but it failed to draw me in for one single minute and found it a hard slog to stay interested in it.
So let me break it down as I see it, "Black Swan" is about Nina who frankly when we meet her at the start is only a nudge away from cracking up and then we watch as the demands of dancing The Swan Queen push her over the edge as she becomes paranoid and unsure of what is real or not. Fair enough as whilst I am most definitely not a fan of ballet the duality of the role of The Swan Queen, aka Odette/Odille, tied in to the duality of a dancer pushing herself to play the part has lots of potential. But as we watch Nina unravel we are suppose to become immersed in her world of her paranoia and the dark side she finds herself embracing making us question what is real and what isn't fails to engage. I can't put my finger exactly on it but at times it almost felt that "Black Swan" ended up more about the look than the story.
Now as I mentioned I am not a fan of ballet and have little idea of what goes on behind the scenes although imagine those who aim to be the best put themselves through the ringer to get there. But I find myself questioning the validity of the behind the scenes we are presented due to the character of Nina being close to a nervous breakdown right from the start that I can't see how this timid and insecure young woman would be picked to be the lead. Having said that whilst I have issues with the validity of the character in the story Portman's portrayal of a young woman on the edge is good and she subtly turns the dial up on the level of paranoia that Nina is going through. In fact all the performances from Mila Kunis to Vincent Cassel are good even though I found their characters hard to believe.
What this all boils down to is that "Black Swan" failed from the start to enthral me as it has others and found it hard to see what many others have found so brilliant about it. But as a piece of movie making it is artistically impressive I just wish it had been more enthralling.