Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Black Swan


Here’s a film that will really knock you out. You may not understand it all—I didn’t—but it’s fascinating, audacious, and beautiful to look at. A young ballet dancer lands the part of Odette in Swan Lake, also playing the black swan. She is technically perfect, but the director keeps telling her she is too cold to play the black swan, that she doesn’t feel the part. Nina is sexually repressed, has really known nothing but the ballet all her life. She begins to lose her mind. From there, it’s difficult to know what is real and what is illusion, particularly at the very end, which I won’t reveal, but it never really mattered to me. It wasn’t a puzzle to be figured out. I know there is allegory in there, but allegory has never been my strong suit. All the supporting performances are excellent, from Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel, but this is Natalie Portman’s movie all the way, and she delivers an awesome performance. She trained for ten months to be a good enough dancer to stand with the pros and not look out of place, but that’s just the technical stuff. I found her to be riveting in every scene.