BLACK SWAN stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company (Mila Kunis). A Fox Searchlight Pictures release by visionary director Darren Aronofsky (THE WRESTLER), BLACK SWAN takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.
So... A film about a bonkers ballerina? That's not exactly going to pack the multiplexes, right? Wrong. In UK cinemas Black Swan has not managed to topple The King's Speech from first place, but its takings have been almost £3million despite the fact that people are flocking to see Colin Firth. Cinemas have been reporting full showings, and positive reactions.
I went to a 13:10 showing on a Sunday afternoon - not exactly a prime time for cinema goers - and the screen was one of the larger ones in our complex. It was at least three quarters full, with a real mix of men and women, young and old. It seems many are curious about this film, especially after the critics have given in the nod in the Oscar nominations (for Best Picture and Best Actress amongst others).
I had been nervous about watching the film. I'd heard that it was extremely dark in parts, and featured some good old-fashioned horror scenes. I'm not good with horror, and had visions of walking out of the cinema because I couldn't cope.
However, I found myself absolutely mesmerised from beginning to end.
It is astounding to me that in such a powerful and haunting psychological thriller, with a number of great performances, Natalie Portman shines. She has been criticised for some rather wooden representations in the past (yep, Star Wars, I'm looking at you!) but here she plays the fragile, beautiful ballerina descending into madness in an absolutely sublime fashion. She is never less than completely believable and I struggled to take my eyes from her whenever she was on the screen.
The scenes featuring the dancing will do more to encourage people to head to the ballet than perhaps anything else I have seen. They were moving, technically brilliant and genuinely drew me into the film. Portman's dance as the Black Swan, in particular, will stay with me for a long time.
I actually enjoyed the tense atmosphere, the sharp shocks, the dark visions that the viewer can never be sure are real or imagined. It built gradually to a poignant crescendo which fitted the rest of the film perfectly.
The sex, drugs and bitching were the grimy underbelly to the pristine costumes and fluttering grace of the ballerinas, and provided a suitably dark backdrop to Natalie Portman's mental instability.
When I saw the descriptions about a film involving ballerinas, I believed it would sink without trace and be a forgettable affair. I was so wrong. This film deserves all its plaudits and more and is unforgettable. Go watch!
Relics by Tim Lebbon
1 hour ago