movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Black Swan

 (15)
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  Black Swan Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
 
Average Rating
7.34 /10
 
Starring
Natalie Portman , Mila Kunis , Vincent Cassel
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andrew Heinz, John McLaughlin

 
 
 
Released: 2010
   
Genre: DRAMA
UNDERRATED
THRILLER
   
Origin: US
   
Length: 103
 
 


 
PRO Reviews

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Just like the final performance by its deeply disturbed heroine, Black Swan is perfect.
(Kristin Hunt, Premiere)
Artful, epic, operatic even, this thriller set in the world of ballet challenges the viewer with its intelligence and depth and wit.
(Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel)
This eye-popping, inspired and often-demented (in a good way) cross between The Red Shoes and All About Eve channels horror maestros David Cronenberg, Brian De Palma and Dario Argento.
(Lou Lumenick, New York Post)
One of the best movies of the year.
(Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com)
To induce a state of dread and mesmerize with beauty is a rare, paradoxical achievement.
(Claudia Puig, USA Today)
Wild and woolly, the movie is a breathtaking head trip that hails from a long tradition of backstage melodramas: 42nd Street, A Star Is Born, All About Eve, and, yes, that kitschy '90s relic, Showgirls.
(Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)
This is, no doubt about it, a tour de force, a work that fully lives up to its director's ambitions.
(David Edelstein, New York Magazine)
Black Swan is visceral and real even while it's one delirious, phantasmagoric freakout.
(Manohla Dargis, New York Times)
Whether your tastes are delicate or coarse, whether you prefer the ballet or horror movies, there is plenty in the film for you.
(Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian)
A florid, often lurid, completely enthralling film held in place by a disarming Portman, who rarely leaves the frame.
(Keith Phipps, The Onion A.V. Club)
It's all or nothing with Black Swan. Either you embrace its headlong descent into madness brought on by the pressures of artistic perfection, compounded by smothering anxiety, or you reject it. It's that simple.
(Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic)
A wicked, sexy and ultimately devastating study of a young dancer's all-consuming ambition, Black Swan serves as a fascinating complement to Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, trading the grungy world of a broken-down fighter for the more upscale but no less brutal sphere of professional ballet.
(Peter Debruge, Variety)
This drama-horror hybrid, set within a New York ballet company, strikes a tone more along the lines of the terrifying hallucinatories of Aronofsky's breakout film, Requiem for a Dream, revisiting, too, favorite themes of monster mommies and female hysteria.
(Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle)
A near-masterpiece of a film set in the hothouse world of New York ballet.
(Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)
Portman's portrait of an artist under siege is unmissable and unforgettable. So is the movie. You won't know what hit you.
(Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
The look and feel of Black Swan, which captures the essence of a major New York ballet production, is one of Aronofsky's great successes.
(James Berardinelli, Reelviews)
A full-bore melodrama, told with passionate intensity, gloriously and darkly absurd. It centers on a performance by Natalie Portman that is nothing short of heroic.
(Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
Both a baroque thriller set in New York's ballet demimonde and a portrait of artistry as schizoid perfectionism, Darren Aronofsky's new film percolates parallel lines of fine madness - but then, doubling down on duality is this movie's raison d'etre.
(David Fear, Time Out New York)
A psychosexual thriller that lures its viewers into a woozy nightmare.
(Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News)
With Natalie Portman dominating the action and exhibiting a screen maturity not seen from her before, this all-stops-out Grand Guignol melodrama exhibits more than enough blood, sweat and tears (emphasis on the blood) to score nicely beyond the ballet crowd.
(Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine)
Arriving with a savage grace, director Darren Aronofsky's nightmare-come-to-life Black Swan cements his reputation not only as one of the more daring filmmakers of his generation, but also as an actor's director of the first order.
(Mike Scott, New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Audaciously whacked-out and never less than entertaining, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan mixes a backstage dance drama with a Freudian psychological thriller that's indebted to Roman Polanski's studies of shattered feminine psyches and David Cronenberg's movies about repressed bodies in rebellion.
(Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail)
Some girls fight over men. Ballerinas fight over parts. But the occasional brilliance of Black Swan is that it's a one-way fight. Nina battles herself.
(Wesley Morris, Boston Globe)
Perhaps the best trick Aronofsky pulls off here is in making Black Swan locally harrowing - that is, we the audience may never really fear for the health or safety of Nina, but instead the suspense we feel comes from empathizing with her confusion, her initial inability to grasp what she can't yet understand, and her psychological helplessness. And Aronofsky would not have been able to convey this correctly without Portman's star turn. Unlike Nina, Portman shows no cracks in her portrayal as she embodies the withering crush of internal and external pressure, of having achieved so much yet still finding herself feeling her way through the dark. I've always liked Portman, but I've never felt she had fully convinced me in her previous performances - she was close, but there was always something missing. This time, nothing is missing, and perhaps she's now reached the pinnacle of her own art.
(Jeffrey Chen, Window To The Movies)
It's fitting that Darren Aronofsky had to struggle for years to get Black Swan made. A movie about a ballerina's agonizing quest for perfection might seem a little hollow if it were effortlessly cranked out on the Hollywood assembly line; Black Swan, on the other hand, has the marks of a passion project. You can practically see the metaphorical blood oozing from Aronofsky's swollen directorial feet. Black Swan is a wholly engrossing, almost unbearably tense drama about a fairly mundane thing: backstage anxiety in the performing arts. Countless movies have addressed the same subject, but I feel safe in saying none have addressed it in quite this way. Aronofsky, working from a screenplay by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz, shows a knack for combining genres in a most unsettling fashion. Here you'll find psychological thrills, body horror, sexual awakening, symbolic self-discovery, hallucinatory trickery, and the terrifying calf muscles of ballet dancers, all in one movie.
(Eric D. Snider, Land of Eric)
The tragically beautiful and sexually charged Black Swan is an examination of the will of a performance artist in search of perfection. It's a drum roll that builds to a striking crescendo with occasional stabs from the strings, cutting into the heart of the narrative, keeping the viewer on alert. Described as a psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, it hides none of its mystery but at the same time isn't out to fill in the blanks.
(Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon)
Portman, shot mostly in closeup and mid-range, appears to be doing much of the dance work herself, and ably. Members of the Pennsylvania Ballet lend verisimilitude and artistry to the proceedings, and the staging of Swan Lake's climactic scenes, truly a transcendent fusion of music, dance, and cinema, is thrilling to behold. Thrilling, indeed. And brazenly, beautifully crazy.
(Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Aronofsky's fable about Nina's quest to transform herself from the White Swan into the Black Swan captures so much about the physical reality of ballet -- the blood and bruises, the tortured toes and twisted ligaments - that it feels intimate, sympathetic and even loving. It's a terrible cliche to say that a movie about artistic creation is itself an autobiography of its creator, but this is one of those rare movies in which director, actor, character and story all fuse into a big and powerful allegorical somethingness. Black Swan certainly has its flaws -- it's overcooked, and implausible in places - but I don't care. It's a magnificent blend of pop and art cinema, the breakthrough we've been waiting for from both Portman and Aronofsky, and an instant classic that people will be arguing about all winter.
(Andrew O’Hehir, Salon)
It'll be interesting to see if the public is able to enjoy Black Swan, as it's certainly a difficult film. One thing's for sure, all the Joblo.com readers who've supported Aronofsky from day one will adore this, as it's as good as anything he's ever done. It's incredible.
(Chris Bumbray, Jo Blo’s Movie Emporium)
Aronofsky takes his usual bravura cinematic approach to this harrowing psychological thriller set in a New York ballet company. Not only is it unlike any film we've ever seen, but it leaves us shaken by its boldly evocative themes... This is a haunting, intimate film that blends fantasy and reality to cleverly explore how it must feel to rise to a level of celebrity that most could only dream of. Watching Nina let go of her innocence is truly terrifying, leading to an intense final act that will leave audiences shattered (and either loving or hating the film). In the end, it's a provocative, powerful story about how you might have to completely lose yourself if you want to be a star.
(Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall)

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