If you had told me a year ago that a ballet film would be one of my favorites from last year I would have thought you drunk, high or both. But Darren Aronofsky strikes gold again with this incredible decent into madness. Natalie Portman is Oscar Bound with this tour de force as Nina the tightly wound ballerina who is slowly losing her mind. Vincent Cassel, who's excellent in everything, is awesome as the ballet director as the supporting cast also shines. Barbara Hershey is brilliant as Nina's overbearing Mom and Mila Kunis proves she's an actress to watch as Nina's rival/friend/lover.
As Nina prepares for her debut as the lead in Swan Lake, she slowly loses her mind as the pressure becomes too much. The best part is how subtle some of her madness becomes. Some is very in your face as she's constantly seeing herself in others around her. Other scenes are blink and you'll miss it moments, the best taking place in a crowded nigthclub where people in her Black Swan makeup flash by. You'll be constantly looking around to see if anything else is not quite right which makes it a movie well worth seeing multiple times.
Even without the madness sweeping through her life, the parts of how hard ballet is pack a powerful punch. Split fingernails and toenails will have even the most hardened movie goer wincing. This is very realistic gore not the over top spectacles of Friday the 13th which makes it far far worse to sit through.
Make no mistake. This is a very difficult film to sit through. It's unsettling, upsetting and brutal. Plus Nina's madness makes her the most insane protagonist since Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Like Bateman, she's so insane that she can't tell what is real and what isn't. And that makes the film that much more exciting and riveting. If you like psycho sexual dramas, don't miss this one. If realistic gore and insanity aren't your thing, rent How To Train Your Dragon.
5 stars out of 5