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August 20th, 2014

Black Swan Movie Review

Black Swan Movie ReviewI used to think it’d be impossible to watch a movie about madness and that it’d be portrayed so well that I would nearly lose my own mind during the course of the film. That’s the beauty of Darren Aronofsky’s BLACK SWAN; the slow burn nature of the film lets the psychological breakdown of the main character sneak its way naturally into the brain until it begins to bend and twist reality until you can’t tell the difference and before you know it the credits are rolling. That’s exactly what happened to me and it took me quite some time to gather myself and leave the theater. Aronofsky’s vision of a ballet dancer’s fragile mind is exceedingly brilliant and incredibly haunting.

BLACK SWAN is the story of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a quiet ballet dancer obsessed with perfection that is thrust into the lead role of her company’s production of Swan Lake. Her director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel) is confident in her ability to play the white swan because of her shy reclusive personality, but wants to push her into discovering her more seductive and sexy side to portray the role of the black swan. The pressure of the role starts to take its toll even when she tries to befriend her rival Lily (Mila Kunis); until she becomes convinced she wants to take the role from her. Nina’s mental health deteriorates rapidly and threatens to destroy her and everything she’s worked for.

Aronofsky has put together a mentally exhausting psychological nightmare that really tested my own ability to decipher what was real and what wasn’t and I couldn’t have been happier to take the stroll down that path. Through the first half of the film I was a little worried that the payoff in the last acts of the film wouldn’t justify the relatively slow pace at the beginning only to have those doubts be totally shattered. Aronofsky has carried over the look and feel from THE WRESTLER with the handheld camera work that follows the action very closely and has a very grainy looking picture.

We get to know Portman’s character very intimately so there’s very little mystery to her arc as a character, but what we learn about the other characters like Thomas and Lily is just enough to make assumptions but their intentions are always in question and mysterious because we too have to question their motives from the point of view of Nina’s mind. Her descent into madness is perfectly done due to Portman’s terrific performance; her portrayal of a dancer striving for perfection has made her movements on the dance floor so stiff and mechanical that her struggle to ‘let go’ feels strained and maddening. The script isn’t ground breaking but Portman, Kunis and Cassel take the relatively simple script and breath an incredible amount of life into the film. Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey both have limited roles but perform each of them admirably.

It’d be easy to talk for hours about all the subtle visuals used throughout the film designed to make you question your own mind and rather or not you actually saw something happen. So much of the film is masterfully crafted to make you experience Nina’s mental deterioration right along with her and it works astoundingly well. The music is beautiful and gives the film a very grand operatic feel and other times where it’s very sexy and tense but always rounding out the film perfectly.

I have very few problems with the film aside from not feeling like I fully connected with Nina’s emotional journey. There were times I felt for her character but just not as deeply as I’d of liked, but I did connect fully with her mental struggle which makes it possible to overlook the minor flaws I had with the beginning pacing and my emotional disconnect. Towards the end there were some minor CGI hiccups; all of them very brief but still effective in the way they were used.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think BLACK SWAN stood at the top of 2010′s elite group of films. The truth is that Aronofsky has put together a beautiful piece of cinema that is engaging, powerful and chilling. You’d be hard pressed to find a film that combines so many elements of drama, horror with the beauty of classical cinema wrapped in a psychological thriller. BLACK SWAN is a maddening journey through an exhausting psychological nightmare and it’s never been so delightful to endure.




100 Comments


  1. Moonraker

    Excellent review! I agree with your analysis completely. From the beginning it was clear that the Nina character struggled with mental illness. The stress involved with landing the Black Swan role pushed her over the edge with wonderful results. Portman deserves all the accolades she has been receiving.


  2. I love this movie and I also like its movie poster. I can’t wait to watch this with my friends.


  3. Roc

    this is the worst movie i’ve seen not only for 2010 but ever…


    • Moonraker

      Wow, really? Why? Little Fockers is still playing if that’s more your speed.


    • Am_dude2001

      are you bloody out of your mind?? what do you want huh? another teeny ameican pie?


    • Charliechoices

      I agree with you, it was the worst movie I’ve ever seen!!


    • Trentos

      100% Agree – Natalie Portman was brilliant but it was a crap film


    • Swanhater

      I agree that it was the worse movie ever. The acting was reasonable, I’ll admit, and I get the idea of the whole mind fuc* plot thing. But I just wanted to get up and leave about 10 minutes in. I was not entertained, surprised, excited or otherwise moved. It was boring and predictable. I guess I don’t have the fine appreciation for dark, delusional characters who kill themselves. Bring on the Fockers!


    • Anniella

      The sexual scenes were disgusting


  4. Amazing movie! Natalie improves a lot in acting. I bet this will be a famous movie ever. For advance, Congratulations.


  5. Joanna

    The movie Black Swan contains everything we wouldn’t want to teach our children. Sick psycho, filthy sex,
    bad language, immoral and not a hint of ballet. It too bad that the beautiful art of Ballet is displayed in such a
    sick movie. The movie company and all associated with this film clearly only cared about making money.


    • Abbypug

      I suggest you learn to appreciate the art of cinema. This filmed showed the psychological breakdown of a young woman under tremendous stress – real and self-perceived which turned into mental illness, eventually ending in her own death. It is an adult movie with the appropriate rating. If you let your kids watch this, you are irresponsible – don’t blame the movie if you can’t understand what the production is trying to artisically display. Ignorance on your part


  6. Johnd455

    I enjoyed the movie, not only was it excited but it really made you question things towards the end. I would give it a 9/10 mainly because Mila and Lily’s adventure was in her head. Grea film nontheless.


  7. Shaan

    Joanna – the center theme of the movie is nt ballet. its the dark and white forces fighting inside an innocent girl who wants to break free but is too involved with attaining perfection that the pressure breaks her down.
    i personally loves the movie… watched it 5 times and still can go on
    natalie is amazing and the versatile acting she has shown is fantastic.
    even the music was good. the choreography and not to mention the Black Swan dance sequence with her imaginary wings.
    though that sex scene of nina and lily got a lttle way too much… but over all i loved it.


    • Anonymous

      Nina is not innocent. She has no sense of self (which to me, made the movie predictable, not confusing, and slightly boring.) After having worked with girls with similar personality disorders, it was like work to me…only I had to leave the office and follow them. Nina is a hollow person; doesn’t know who she is, what she likes or doesn’t like—there is nothing there—only a person who has no sense of self (this is not a mental illness—we’re talking about personality strength here)—there is only manipulation. And thus the audience is manipulated also. Not a very creative film. Manipulative, cold, and robotic, but not creative.
      When the movie begins Nina is hollow, when it ends she is hollow and dying. If you look at the film from the point of view of a person with no sense of self, then it is quite easy to see what is real and what is not. There really isn’t any confusion or intrique. Only sadness.


      • Fiona

        Hello – I cannot agree that Nina is “hollow” although perhaps I should start with asking you what you mean by hollow. I felt she was a real person – she was I believe like a lot of dancers who are completely obsessed by their work ( like many artists). She did try to break free of her smothering mother, and she did try to reach other out to another woman who had a much better self image, and her efforts destroyed her. Was she too brittle?, maybe brittle, not hollow, would that describe her? But even at the outset of the movie, she was very ill. And all mental ill people have a certain brittle quality to them.. The only thing I wish the movie had done more of, is allow the audience to understand her illness without being so much a part of it. By that, I mean, I think we needed a bit more explanation as to what happened – was it real or imaged. The scene with Winona Ryder particularly disturbed me….


        • Ssg322

          Hi Fiona,

          By “hollow”, I mean she wasn’t an authentic self–she had very little sense of self. This has nothing to do with artistic temperament. It has to do with personality disordered people and it is not a mental illness, although it can lead to acting out, to addictions, to things like cutting oneself, to the inability to integrate all aspects of one’s personality.
          Artistic endeavors, while challenging, do not make people fall apart (as the movie suggested), in fact artistic endeavors can help people be healthy and creative, alive (not dead.)
          Brittle is a good word I think but points to her fragile personality–to her weaknesses in her psychological make-up, but again not a mental illness.
          With a background in psychotherapy, I had no trouble seeing what was real and what wasn’t. I could see when she was dissociating and into depersonalization (both very primitive defense mechanisms.)
          I agree with you—the movie made her seem like an average person (although we knew something was up with her relationship with her mother.) Anytime you saw a person that then morphed into Nina, it was Nina (as in Nina attacking herself in the mirror before the last act of the ballet.) She was externally fighting herself. She needed a therapist terribly. Not Lily. Lily had her own poor sense of self. She acted out and did things that were very unhealthy for her. She was the flip-side of Nina—neither integrated in terms of their personalities.
          You are exactly right, also, that at the beginning of the movie, she is disturbed. Not mentally ill, though. She had no sense of self or a very very poor sense of self. It’s as if nothing was really there inside. She didn’t know what she liked or disliked. She didn’t know about her own sexuality. She was so regressed and undeveloped, but yet was a grown woman. She was then manipulated and that’s one thing I really didn’t like about the movie. That’s when it became sensationalistic just for the audience.
          The other thing that played strongly is the Madonna/Whore complex them which is so old and we need to get by that. Hollywood plays on it though. Again, it is a split and a tired ole one. I felt like, enough of this. The thing that saddened me so is that Portman did a fine acting job—I just wish she’d had better screenplay material. She played into old stereotypes in this role and she also showed (as you demonstrate) that a lack of sense of self is confusing to most people and is mistaken for mental illness (when it’s not the same thing.) That really annoyed me.
          I was reminded of young female patients I used to work with and the movie was actually sad and painful to me as a result, not scary at all. Scary or confusing was the last thing it was to me. I doubt this will be the normative reaction to the movie, though, sadily enough.


          • tamtam

            This was just a movie….it didn’t need psychoanalysis!!!
            And we are now convinced of your ‘ professionalism ‘ so please don’t mention it again.

            Thank you!


        • Anonymous

          I replied below although the correct name sarak226 did not come up for some reason. Just wanted to let you know that.

          I thought of one patient who was up for the Olympics—she was having problems about this and I saw her. She was beautiful, seemed smart enough, but something was missing—it was that authenticity I mentioned. She was whoever she was “supposed” to be depending on who she was around. She wasn’t grounded. Just blowing in the wind. Injured herself badly before the Olympic trials and I suspect it was “accidentally on purpose.”


      • Chelytenens

        Given your interpretation, the movie was a study of somebody who lacks a strong identity. OK. The film is a document of the experiences she has and how she struggles. It seems as though you’re defining a piece of literature by the entirely separate confines of commercial fiction. Black Swan isn’t about suspense and a reinforcement of commonly held beliefs, and it isn’t about being unpredictable. Black Swan is the personal narrative of an unusual type of person; it’s literature that portrays a set of experiences from an interesting perspective. It seems to me that you’re saying it was a bad movie because it was not what you wanted, which is not a valid criticism for literature. You’re only saying it doesn’t work well as commercial fiction. Black Swan is completely creative in the acting, the filming, the dialogue, the interpersonal interactions, the violence, the dancing, and the
        way that it portrays the tensions between the characters. When you watch a movie that is supposed to be art, you get the most out of it when you focus your observation on “how” things are happening instead of “what” is happening. In movies like Black Swan, it’s good to stop fixating on plot and pay attention to the elements of the beautiful and the grotesque.

        Although you think it was easy to determine what was real, you do not actually have the capacity to know. It’s like reading Hamlet once then explaining exactly what Shakespeare was thinking when he wrote it. You can suppose, you can guess, and you can draw conclusions that are based in likelihood, but certain knowledge is not possible. One vital aspect of literature is that it provides for a multiplicity of interpretations.


        • sarak355

          I’m not saying that the movie was bad because it wasn’t what I wanted. I’ve said Portman’s acting was excellent—she will probably win an Oscar. I think the psychological stuff made no sense at all—too much stuff all jumbled up in a way that just doesn’t happen. So for me, (I realize not for everyone and I’m only speaking for myself which seems pretty disallowed on this forum by many) that the psychological stuff didn’t make sense. The only part that did was that it was pretty clear that she had a severe personality disorder (Axis II disorder, not clinical disorder as in Axis I which so many want to put in there and the movie kind of does throw that in there too—to me in a way that makes very little sense from a psychological perspecitive.) To me the set up from the beginning pretty much told the entire tale and I don’t care for a movie that I can see through from the get go. It became boring to me. I thought the Portman’s acting was good, just wish she’d had a better screenplay for her talents. I didn’t buy the premise of the screenplay at all. For those who disagree with me, I’m not calling you horrible names. You have a right to your own opinion and I’m not being rude or hateful to any who disagree about it. My opinion is just that—my opinion.


          • A very concerned physician

            Again, I have to reply to whom I believe is the same person with the other “personality disorder” comments. It doesn’t bother me at all that you did not enjoy the movie, but the erroneous “medical” information you are trying to use to support your opinions is egregious. The character clearly does not have a personality disorder. Patients with personality disorders do not hallucinate! Please, get a cheap copy of the DSMIV and look this up. And, I beg you, get a job that keeps you far away from patients who have real neuropsychiatric disorders and actually need help. You are definitely not a person who should be working in that type of job.


      • Trishok

        I totally lost it at the end, had a total out pour of emotion, complete sadness, YES agree!!


      • A very concerned physician

        I know this is months after this post, but I really must reply to this. I hope for the sake of all mentally ill persons everywhere that you do not actually have a job that involves working with anyone who needs mental help and support because it is obvious from your post that you would not know a truly mental ill person from a dirty gym sock. I really don’t care what you thought of the movie, but if you didn’t perceive a good example of a mentally unstable and very ill young woman, you have no business anywhere in the medical field.


  8. Jenny Savage

    Totally disappointed in this film!!!! Had really been looking forward to it, but found it to be cartoonish and ridiculous…Too bad… a really good premise for what could have been depicted elegantly…Instead, the result was like some bad comic book version of serious subject matter…


    • Glenn Loubert

      Jenny Savage I couldn’t disagree with you more! Cartoonish and ridiculous? “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” was cartoonish and ridiculous. This was a gritty, yet visually stunning, wonderfully crafted film depicting psychological breakdown and descent into madness. Aranofsky kept me so skillfully off balance that I almost felt like I was going insane. Once the experience of the film was over, and I was able to unclench my stomach and breathe again, I realized how much I enjoyed the ride. Unfortunately, like a lot of great art, I guess it goes right over some peoples’ heads.


      • sarak355

        I agree somewhat with Jenny. I wouldn’t call Black Swan cartoonish because the acting (at least by Portman) was good. I would call it naive or lacking depth because of the screenplay.
        The screenplay is what makes it a problem which is too bad.

        Glenn, Nina didn’t go “mad” or “psychotic”—this is what has bugged me about the film. Most people might think that but that IS ridiculous. From the outset you see in her relationships that she is so immature (you see this with her mother)—she has no sense of self—her personality strength (I’m not talking about her dancing talent)—I mean her personality strength and maturity isn’t there. Most any actof (and that includes dancers can play a role that includes variations of character. What does it say when a person can only play a “good” part? That’s just bizarre and it is hard to take it seriously then. Look up dissociation and depersonalization—-they are immature psychological defense mechanisms. If you know that—then there are zero surprises in this film. It becomes boring because it is so totally predictable. As is the Madonna/Whore theme the writers use that is so old. As is the female protagonist being cast as becoming self destructive when she has to deal with dark emotions. No actor or actress (dancer or not) should be in the business if he or she can’t deal with dark emotions. We all have those emotions and those who have no sense of selves (who are kind of hollow “yes” people are not mentally ill—they are personality disordered and Nina was severly personality disordered. So everytime you see Portman’s face superimposed on anyone else’s you know it’s all Portman’s stuff. There is no
        suspense then. This could have been a really good film if the writers/director had paid attention to psychological mindedness (like Psych 101 stuff) and had not turned this film into total predictability.


      • Glenn Loubert

        Sorry sarak355…wrong again. You’re so miopic that this is becoming a ridiculous debate. This is not a movie designed to educate anyone about mental illness. It’s not deceptive and it’s not manipulative, and your ridiculous claims that it was predictable are pompous. Listen to yourself…she didn’t go mad. Yah, okay, Nina didn’t go crazy. It was just a psychological defense mechanism. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to produce or direct a great film, and that’s what this is. Do you ever enjoy anything, or is it all too boring and predictable. Sheesh!


        • sarak355

          I think if you’re writing/directing a film that deals heavily with psychology, that, yeah, you need to get the psychological part correct enough and this film didn’t. So, to me, it was predictable, among other things that aren’t positive. To me (and I understand, not to you), it was predictable and psychologically it didn’t makes sense to me, while the movie dealt very heavily in psychology.)
          Perhaps this will make some sense to you—it’s from the last psychiatrist review—might not make sense to you either, on the other hand. Whatever. I submit it to you anyway for your consideration:
          “Natalie Portman adeptly plays lots of different pathologies: anorexia, psychosis, OCPD, etc– but these things don’t all manifest in the same person and certainly not because of events in your life–” this thing made me OCD and this thing made me hallucinate and this thing…etc. (see remainder below from same reviewer)

          “It is also the kind of ‘crazy’ that defendants fake when they want to pretend they’re crazy. Not understanding real psychosis, nor the specifics of the legal term “insanity” often means defendants endorse or exhibit every symptom I throw at them. They pull a Nina, thinking I’ll be impressed. “


        • BBBrookes

          Yeah gotta agree Glenn, the bottom line is film are meant to entertain whether it be for laughs, cries or catharsism possibly more reasons! Sometimes a film just has that “charisma” Black Swan has all of this, and despite some people’s perceived imperfections of the movie, it still works as a superb piece of cinema – a human being is not a perfect species, yet we still wish to love it for a reason we cannot understand – this film may not be perfect when you look so closely at it but, like a painting, are we not supposed to stand back at a distance and look, not get the magnifying glass out? Gosh if my fella analysed me as much as that lady just did the film then I think my life would be over! No disrespect to her skills in the medical field of course!
          I loved Black Swan, it was darkly magical and reminded me very much of an era of cinema gone long ago – an instant classic :-)


          • sarak355

            I’m sorry—I didn’t intend to analyze it–it was more that I was trying to simply explain my own point of view and was being questioned over and over about it. It is my point of view and not anyone else’s. For me, understanding severe personality disorders then made the movie (for me) not one of suspense at all–it made it predictable. Why is it a problem that I’d write that if that was my experience? I wouldn’t be good at my work if I couldn’t see that kind of thing, for gosh sakes. I could pretty much figure out the type of stuff that would happen from the get go. That’s all. I’d hope anyone in my position would be able to. Mental illness and personality disorders aren’t the same thing and it’s bothersome to me when a movie tries to jumble them all together. Simply makes me not buy the storyline, but I can certainly see the value of the Portman’s acting as I’ve said. Others can and do have their own views and experience, obviously, but I can have mine too, surely, without being denigrated. as I have on this site.


          • 5littleangels

            a personality disorder IS a mental illness sarak. i feel sorry for your ‘patients/clients’. i’m not sure they (personality disorders) would have made it into dsmIV if they were not classified as mental illness’s. i find your attitude and comments about personality disorders cold, its most disturbing that you claim to work with those who suffer from this type of mental illness. most disturbing.


      • Glenn Loubert

        Sorry sarak355…wrong again. You’re so miopic that this is becoming a ridiculous debate. This is not a movie designed to educate anyone about mental illness. It’s not deceptive and it’s not manipulative, and your ridiculous claims that it was predictable are pompous. Listen to yourself…she didn’t go mad. Yah, okay, Nina didn’t go crazy. It was just a psychological defense mechanism. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to produce or direct a great film, and that’s what this is. Do you ever enjoy anything, or is it all too boring and predictable. Sheesh!


      • Glenn Loubert

        Sorry sarak355…wrong again. You’re so miopic that this is becoming a ridiculous debate. This is not a movie designed to educate anyone about mental illness. It’s not deceptive and it’s not manipulative, and your ridiculous claims that it was predictable are pompous. Listen to yourself…she didn’t go mad. Yah, okay, Nina didn’t go crazy. It was just a psychological defense mechanism. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to produce or direct a great film, and that’s what this is. Do you ever enjoy anything, or is it all too boring and predictable. Sheesh!


  9. American Dreamer

    The idiots criticizing this movie came looking for Turning Point or Red Shoes.

    This movie is about the human psyche and it could have been portrayed in any number of professions other than ballet.

    The point of the movie is to take you inside the mind of someone who is collapsing from the inside out. The world of ballet is only a means to achieve that end.

    Still it would not have been a masterpiece without Portman’s astonishing performance.

    If you liked this movie you must see Requiem for a Dream which I strongly believe is one of the greatest movies ever.


    • SUFT

      How typically intolerant. People who disagree don;t have a right to their opinion. They are idiots. Such is the world we now live in. God helps us. Soon anybody who disagrees with crap and filth as they see it will be lined up an shot by those intolerant to their views.


  10. Anonymous

    This movie isn’t about someone descending into mental illness. This is about a ballerina who from the beginning of the movie has no sense of self. A hollow person. Doesn’t know what she likes or doesn’t like; doesn’t know who she even is. Nothing authentic. So she can be totally manipulated. Portman plays the part well; however, it was never unclear to me what was real and what was not. I didn’t find it confusing, but somewhat boring and most definitely sad. The tired old Madonna/Whore theme was rampant throughout this movie. No integration, therefore why would there not be disintegration. You’d know that from the start if you are a viewer who has any psychological-mindedness. I wouldn’t recommend this movie except perhaps to a class of psych students to demonstrate a person with a lack of self who dissociates and depersonalizes under stress.


  11. Stefaniamaria3

    I thought this movie was brilliant and beautiful. It is definitely done not to be taken so literally in the fact that, yes it is a theatrical performance, but the thrills are more symbolic of the destructiveness that was going on in her life. I think it more demonstrated the struggles within that she encountered. It left alot of room for your mind to drift, wonder… the mystery was one of the most enticing parts of the film, aside from the beauty in the acting and dancing. The sex appeal made sense, it was a tool that Portman’s character used to feel good indulging in things that werent good for her, she imagined she was someone else, and hated that other person. I thought the movie was excellent. She wasnt a hollow person, she obviously took her dancing very seriously – it was her life and all she lived for – and you could tell that she didnt want to end up like her mother who was her constant reminder of her own immortality and what could happen, or how she could end up, if she didnt give it her all. Although she loved her mother, her mother played a really defensive role – she seemed to be too much, smothering her, and confining her, whereas she intended to help her, but it only hurt her more, because she was creating the world Natalies character was trying to escape. Portman didnt want to be stuck there anymore. That was why she so related to the swan role ande even moreso was the reason she became so immersed into it. The struggle to her was not just about the one role, or her career, for her it was her life, and who she was, who she wanted to be and breaking loose of her confinement and her personal struggles that she repressed. She surely did have mental issues and surely were magnified and triggered by the stress. She had an illness. I think that the viewer is not suppose to know everything that is going on in actuality but to read between the lines. The fact that you see it from Portmans perspective is what makes it more interesting. It makes you really THINK, for a change, and I thought what worked really well was the shock value of the movie – moments she hurt herself, or felt feathers ruffling, or the edgy sexual scenes…. It worked really well at showing the confusion of what happens to someone in that situation. THey don;t know how they ended up there or how things happened or got so out of control and dont want to beleive they have the problem or really dont know… so they have some other logic or memory…. There were alot of dynamics to the movie. Mila Kunis playing her alter ego – the person she made responsible for her indulgent and destructive pleasures – was ultimately her worst enemy (herself) and she hated herself for what she was becoming and things shes done along the way… So she would injure herself.. it was apparent. But it seemed she tried to block it out. Winonas character and purpose in the movie, i think was symbolic of the nature of the dancing world and how your career has a limited time frame. It was Portmans guilt of feeling like she ruined Winonas life and took her spot, and at the same time would ultimately happen to her.

    Anyway, this movie was nothing less of brilliant. Love it.


  12. sarak355S

    Stefaniamaria3,
    I don’t think you are understanding (or either I’m not being clear) about what I mean re: “hollow”—I explained in other places in this post. I’m saying that Nina had no sense of self or had a very poor sense of self—close to a borderline personality disorder which is not considered a mental illness. It is a deficit in her personality development—in her lack of maturity. You don’t get away from your mother (and not repeat your mother’s mistakes) by ending up inadvertently killing yourself because you dissociate and depersonalize because you can’t handle dancing both a good and a bad character. The “black swan” freaked Nina out so much because she didn’t have those aspects that healthier people have integrated into her personality. All I’m saying is this: knowing what people look like (and how they behave) when they have such a poor sense of self (and this has nothing at all to do with her ability to dance—that is her art form.) The problem is her lack of authenticity as a person. She was like a little girl—she was crippled psychically, but was not mentally ill.
    Because I could see this, the movie was not at all scary, it did not make me wonder at all. It was very predictable, knowing Nina’s personality problems. It was not confusing at all to me either. There simply was no mystery because I understood the psychological stuff going on with her. I think most viewers won’t get that at all.


  13. Farcort2097

    I don’t know. I sat through the whole movie, not really being bored, but totally not connecting to anyone of the characters, I didn’t know Wynona Ryder was in it until my date mentioned her name. This made me sad because I’ve always liked her work. I can tell Natalie Portman is a good actress, but she was just not the one to take me though the experiences of the hollow character she played. Perhaps, say, if Audrey Hepburn were alive and in her late twenties and playing Nina , I might have felt something for such a character. As it is, I’m disappointed. Did not like how the interesting story idea was executed at all by the writer, director or producers. .


    • sarak355

      I agree. I think the acting was good, but the problem was the screenplay and director. Tired predictable themes directed in tired predictable ways. Even if it has been Audrey Hepburn I don’t think it would have mattered—the screenplay was just weak and it’s puzzling to me why people think the movie was scary or confusing. How so I wonder? If you know that Nina is fighting herself and has significant personality deficits then it’s quite simple to know what is “real” and what is Nina’s poor defense mechanisms gone awry. I think people need to understand psychology a bit better—then this movie wouldn’t be confusing or scary and the holes in the screenplay would be apparent. It was a slick manipulative movie and somehow that seems to throw people off. I wished I hadn’t wasted my money.


  14. I was so taken by the Black Swan, in fact, that I wrote my own review of it as well. Check it out – we are mostly a philosophy blog, so I had to make it fit.
    http://occamsaftershave.com/2010/12/19/nietzsche-and-the-black-swan-a-movie-review/


  15. Fraud

    I still don’t understand what’s up with the bleeding from her back and fingers… Is she sick or something? The movie isn’t very interesting, I’d give 8 out of ten.


    • Woody Autumn

      I agree. What was with the scratches on her back? The acting by Natalie Portman was very good but the story was very hard to follow.


  16. sarak355

    The bleeding from her back is that she’s supposedly “becoming” the black swan and the feathers are starting to poke through and also she’d scratching it. The bleeding from the fingers seems to be connected the whole self-injury thing so that one can “feel” something. Anything. As I wrote earlier, she’s hollow. No sense of self. People like that get into cutting, picking at their fingers til they bleed, etc. just so they can feel. It’d definitely a disorder—personality deficits.


  17. Grapeevent

    performances may have been great, but not an enjoyable experecnce at all. It was paianful to watch the movie. I seen better plot in musicals, take away the shock value of the bloody scenes and you have nothing.


  18. BTCD

    A lot of melodramatic claptrap, a confused mishmash of a film with a very silly ending. Truly, truly overrated.


  19. StopHating

    I think this movie was marvelous. It’s nice to finally see something that stands out from ordinary movies. I don’t know what people are whining about, obviously they’re afraid of change. I really didn’t understand the movie until the end, which was amazing. This movie left me sitting in awe, I enjoyed trying to piece it together. I’d easily give this a 10/10. Thanks to Mr. Aronofsky for this truly wonderful movie.


  20. sarak355

    I think the problem is the lack of psychological mindedness of people in general and since this movie was produced in the USA, I’d say in the USA. I didn’t have to piece this movie together at all.
    Natalie Portman did a good job of portraying a classic severely personality disordered girl. If one realizes that, there ARE no surprises. The acting was good. The screenplay—bad, with misogynistic themes (very old, boring and sick themselves.) There wasn’t anything suspenseful about this movie at all to me. If people have a basic knowledge of psychology (which I’d hope they do—obviously they don’t) the movie wouldn’t be such a mystery at all.


  21. jfb

    it could have been a beautiful story but, too much sex and evil in the movie…no way could one bring a young child or girl to this…it was almost porn…


  22. sarak355

    If the screenplay had been good, perhaps the overall movie would have been. Again, if you understand about people who lack a sense of self, then there is no suspense or mystery in this movie. It’s like watching a case study in a psych class. No, it is not something to bring a child to—definitely not. When a person has no sense of self and is the age of Nina, nothing good is going to happen. Two things that were really bad about the screenplay to me were 1) too much sensationalistic stuff, especially the sex stuff with the girl (why that? Maybe because the writers were all males?) and 2) there are people who are personality disordered (as Nina is) who can certainly play a part in a movie or play that has both “good” and “bad” sides to a character. For it to freak her out as much as it did, her sense of self had to be so so bad that it was actually painful (not scary) just painful to watch. If she was having THAT much trouble with her role, she should have gone to a therapist. And actors do that at times. For her to kill herself for the role in the end is too much like movies of old (and some poor ones now) where the woman (at least her “dark” side is evil and the story much punish her—often by death.) Might as well have read the Scarlett Letter. The movie was on that level and that’s not a 2010 point of view.


    • Glenn Loubert

      You know what is really painful? Reading your review. Your awkward sentence structure and terrible grammar (personality disordered? Is that even a word?) are as clumsy and misguided as the point you are trying to make. Ninas internal struggle to tap into her dark side in order to transcend her limits as a dancer to create beauty and passion through her art, while paralleling the character she portrays in the actual ballet, simultaneously having to deal with the competitive pressure and tortuous commitment required by her discipline, armed only with her fragile body and psyche, was nothing short of brilliant! You found that predictable? Right. I suppose you knew exactly what was going on when Nina and Lily made love in her bedroom? And that Nina didn’t stab Lily with the broken mirror in her dressing room? Ho hum, how predictable. Seen it all before. But, if the screenplay had been “good”…?
      Give me a break.


      • sarak355

        Uh, yeah—personality disordered is a common phrase used in mental health professions that is widely known and accepted. Seeing how personality disordered Nina was, how borderline personality disordered she was (you can look that up), then, the movie was predictable to me and many others. With the mirror scene, yes, I thought that was Nina in the midst of a dissociative disorder. I didn’t think Lily was stabbing her. You may certainly think and feel what you want about the movie. That’s your business, but the way I see it from what I know and know well, can be respected, also. Can’t it? You might want to look up those words, by the way, instead of accusing someone of using words that “don’t exist.”
        I said I thought that Portman’s acting was good—I think the screenplay was weak and also played on the ole Madonna/Whore themes. The bad girl must die stuff. Can’t we get past that in movies–we’ve moved past it in literature somewhat, at least in good literature? In this movie, even the “bad girl” in the ballet must die!
        And, yes, the minute I saw Nina’s face superimposed on Lily’s face in that bedroom scene, I knew it was all Nina’s psychological stuff and I wasn’t surprised at all. I also thought the masturbation scene was ludicrous. The mother sitting there was about the creepiest thing in the movie. The actual masturbation scene itself was pretty lame, as it’s not even characteristic of how women usually masturbate. It was so over the top and looked, frankly, like something a male would write or direct. Yes, very predictable to me. Obviously not to you. Which is your business, your experience. Not mine.


        • Mitchthemoocher

          I think you meant to say personality disorder or disorders. Your using the past tense which basiclly couldn’t exist it would be she had a personality disorder. I believe that was the reason Loubert critizied you.


  23. perfect review! I just love how the story goes in Black Swan. This is really haunting and exciting at the same time! Just watched the movie and I had some troubles forgetting the movie. LOL


  24. Ayla888

    I think shes suffering from a psychotic breakdown, schizophrenia triggered by all the pressure shes undergoing, hallusinating and all, shes losing the sight of whats real and whats not.


  25. Giann M

    Just watched this film and I came away feeling Nina’s pain. My interpretation was that we were seeing evrything that happened through Nina’s eyes. While it isn’t made clear, it becomes apparent that she is schizophrenic/ severe borderline personality disorder and that this taints everything in her life from her dancing to her relationship with her mother etc. The point is that Nina was already broken inside but the demands of this role caused her to fall apart


  26. sarak355

    I agree with much of the above, only I don’t see Nina as schizophrenic, but yes, as borderline personality disorder and it does taint everything in her life—you see it most strongly in her relationship with her mother. As you say, she is already broken from the beginning, her personality strengths are weak and she is easily manipulated. Seeing this from the get-go of the movie then made the events that occurred in her life not surprising or a mystery at all. It seemed to me that the writers/director must assume that very few Americans know anything about psychology/psychiatry (this might be true) but for those of us who do, the movie was very predictable seeing a clear diagnosis upfront. You can anticipate what is coming. It’s really like watching a case study and not a movie. I’ve seen this kind of stuff so much at work. Therefore, very predictable to me and misleading in terms of it being any kind of supernatural anything. Or even psychotic. She was in dissociative states which can happen to people who are not psychotic at all but who have a very poor sense of self and great immaturity (you see this most clearly in her relationship with her mother.)


    • anonymouse

      Gotta tell ya hun, you’re really focusing on this female Oedipus complex she seems to have using “You see this most clearly in the relationship with her mother” twice in the same analysis.. easy on like


  27. Spam

    sarak355
    Jesus you have no idea how boring you truly truly are do you?


  28. Go_home_sarak355

    If you had any clue about self-awareness you would be aware that every single person who reads down this page keeps seeing your boring comments and thinks “what an asshole! why doesn’t he shut the F up!”

    Please do NOT reply to me as I will never visit this page again unlike yourself who seems to think your comments are welcome.

    Trust me, every single person on here hates you…


  29. gracetwc1

    Wow.. sarak355 you really do have a bee in your bonnet don’t you! Get a grip. After having scrolled this page, you seem to have something to say about every other persons comment/opinion (yet you’re actually just repeating yourself over and over). Please get off your high horse and stop acting like you know everything about psychology/mental disorders etc. This film has been made for entertainment, whilst yes it should have background knowledge on it’s subject.. it is not an educational film about it. I think I speak for most people who have visited this page when I say you seem like an arrogant, up-tight, boring person. I think you have said all you could possibly say on this film, so as the comment above states – SHUT THE F*** UP.

    Everyone else.. I hope you enjoyed the film as much as I did. Am even more in love with Natalie Portman now. Truly gripping.


  30. gracetwc1

    Wow.. sarak355 you really do have a bee in your bonnet don’t you! Get a grip. After having scrolled this page, you seem to have something to say about every other persons comment/opinion (yet you’re actually just repeating yourself over and over). Please get off your high horse and stop acting like you know everything about psychology/mental disorders etc. This film has been made for entertainment, whilst yes it should have background knowledge on it’s subject.. it is not an educational film about it. I think I speak for most people who have visited this page when I say you seem like an arrogant, up-tight, boring person. I think you have said all you could possibly say on this film, so as the comment above states – SHUT THE F*** UP.

    Everyone else.. I hope you enjoyed the film as much as I did. Am even more in love with Natalie Portman now. Truly gripping.


    • sarak355

      gracetwc1,
      If you look back, most of my responses are in response to someone else—as this is to you.
      The rudeness isn’t appreciated and this is an open forum. If you don’t want to read anything I’ve posted then skip it—easy enough to do. I think Portman will probably win an award for her acting. I’ve said all along that her acting was excellent. I thought her acting was good in V for Vendetta (when everyone else was slamming her)—I just think the screenplay was poor and it manipulated the audience terribly about psychological issues. If that’s OK with you, then fine. No need to curse at me.


      • Djfhasldkjbf

        her acting was terrible compared to this in V, do you know anything?


      • Sarak355-is-a-windup

        you sir are an idiot, you have no idea whatsoever about anything at all.
        what an idiot – please disregard anything that this idiot says.

        to everyone else, enjoy the movie!


        • sarak355

          you sir are an idiot, you have no idea whatsoever about anything at all.
          what an idiot – please disregard anything that this idiot says.
          oh really ass nugget ill rape your family i hate all you guys your pissing me off over something so simple and irrelevant!


          • sarak355

            I did not write the response above—no one making me angry. This forum obviously needs a moderator. It’s really slander to write in someone else’s user name. I will try to check with the website.


          • sarak355

            Dea saak355,

            “slander to write”
            Really? i think you meant libel.

            You see, sarak355, slander is spoken while libel is written.

            Unfortunately for you this proves beyond doubt that you are simply an uneducated oaf who could not know anything of any value.

            tl;dr sarak355 is a tool


  31. Disappoitned Nellie

    A waste of money. We walked out 45 minutes into it.. Way over the top for everyday, regular folk with their heads on straight. Would have enjoyed it more if someone’s finger wasn’t constantly up someone elses vagina.What scares me is there are people who watched the movie and enjoyed it without squirming…that says something…


  32. Personality Disordered

    sarak355…

    you have no idea what you are talking about, nobody at all says “personality disordered” within this industry – check wiki for more info – you sir are a faggot!

    And yes, everyone here truly does hate you, its true..

    -_-


  33. /b/

    sarak355

    you a pussy!!


  34. foreveralone

    personally i think sarak355 wishes to get attention because daddy didnt love him enough :C i’m sorry to hear this after a long an extensive interview with sarak’s father i learned that sarak was a disappointment to him and that sarak is homosex, so i can relate when i say kill yourself plox we dont care enough to really want to hear about you bitch your pathetic ideals on a movie… btw when i was interviewing your dad your mother walked in naked i got on the floor and walked the dinasour


  35. Sarak-bitch

    sarak – get a fu**ing grip you bitch………………………………….


  36. Sarak355_is_a_faggot

    oh dear
    another forum appears to have noticed what a faggot you are sarak355…

    End your life now buttcheese….


  37. Parent

    Most disgasting and worst movie I have ever see in my life. Wanted to leave the theater afret first 15 minutes, but was hoping it will get better. Regred not leaving, have nasty dirty feeling after this movie. God fordit my teenage son will ever see this.


  38. Mitchthemoocher

    I’m shock to how nasty this forum got so quickly. However, and this might bring a wave of anger from the omniscent sarak335, I agree that Portman’s character is hollow but contest whether or not this was intended. As you said before, her mother is repressive, she seems to only value herself in her career and is immature. Yet this, to me, seems intended because there are exact replicas of Portman’s character among the populice. Some people have limited personality or have little emotional developement and Nina seems to represent this stunted youth. She could be purposefully stunted to represent how the dance world, occationally, limits its dancer’s growth to achive a more youthful look or her mother’s attempts to maintain what society deems perfection. I fear sarak 335 has confused the directors view and societies. The director was meaning to challenge the idea that perfection is based on innocent and how that pressure destroys people. The disorder just served as a catalist for his motive. Also, for those who found the move to grimy, disgusting, or overall sexual to watch, I would interpret this to be part of the screenplays motive to create a mood of rich darkness as if we all were becoming black swans. Not to mention the theme it points to of a society, not unlike many which some of the posters seem to have grown up in, that is afraid of sexual encounters, the taboo, the wrong, however to deny that these aspects are apart of the world by denying them in the theaters is to claim ignorance. To Parent, I would ask yourself whether or not your teenage son has participated in any of the “Black Swan” areas and whether or not you are Nina’s mother in your sons life. To have knowlege of the more gritty parts of life is to have full knowlege. You can only appriciate the postivies and morality of a person or society if you recognize its flaws or grit depending on how you view it.


  39. sarak355

    Mitchthemoocher,
    You won’t get a wave of anger from me. You might get it from someone who is using my user name, as occurred above a couple of times. I agree with a lot you say at the first part of the post–I think what you write about was intended. It’s too bad that it’s being cast as psychotic and supernatural when Nina’s problems certainly looks like stunted, immature personality /emotional development, as you say. I agree.


  40. Mitchthemoocher

    Well that is where I would disagree because I feel Nina is intentionally created as a hollow character so she can be the hyperbole of innocence and demonstrate how such a person is left vulnerable to the actual world and her envy of her counter part (Kunez) she wishes she could be as strong. It in no way detracts from her character nor from the movie. The psychotic episodes are a result of her extreme innocence or imaturity depending on your view and her experiences with the real world which prove overly burdensome to her underdeveloped psychy. In my opion the director intended to make her hollow to prove the ignorance of expecting such from not only Nina but women in general. Far from being misogynistic, Aronofsky means to show the unrealisic views of the child-like dance scene to overall generalities of innocence and its applications to gender. I would hold the opinion that Nina dies not to punish her sins but because she was unable to handle them due to her sheltered state of mind.


  41. LikedBlkSwan

    I found the movie entertaining. The cinematography, acting, etc were all excellent and together with some compelling visual effects the movie certainly kept me entertained the whole way. It was also thought provoking. The notion that perfect isn’t perfect is an interesting idea worth some further offline thought. I found the use of a lesbian sex scene interesting because it represents this powerful, forbidden desire between the two alter egos of the innocent and the not-innocent. There’s this suggestion that to be innocent and not-innocent in the right measure to be perfect is an unstable knife-edge.


  42. LikedBlkSwan

    I found the movie entertaining. The cinematography, acting, etc were all excellent and together with some compelling visual effects the movie certainly kept me entertained the whole way. It was also thought provoking. The notion that perfect isn’t perfect is an interesting idea worth some further offline thought. I found the use of a lesbian sex scene interesting because it represents this powerful, forbidden desire between the two alter egos of the innocent and the not-innocent. There’s this suggestion that to be innocent and not-innocent in the right measure to be perfect is an unstable knife-edge.


  43. Ashavi97

    i haven’t seen this movie. It looks entertaining & interesting. But all the comments I have read-I think its becoming a debate about the movie up there!


  44. SUFT

    Let me say this and let me be clear. Those of you who did not like this film have as much right to express your dissatisfaction as those who liked it. Don;t ever let the disrespectful remarks and intolerant comments intimidate you into silence. Speak out and speak up if you feel this movie was crap and filth. You have a right of freedom of expression.


    • sarak355

      SUFT, I agree, BUT that has never really been in question here.

      Nearly all of the rude comments are a direct response/reply to sarak355 who is generally annoying everyone.

      If he had simply made a few comments and then left then I GUARANTEE there would have been no “strong” comments on here at all.

      The fact is that sarak355 replies to everyones comments as though he is some sort of moderator himself. When you want to read a review of a film you should be able to skip through and get a general idea of general consensus. On this page you keep tripping up over sarak355 comments.

      To prove my point simply look at the number of “likes” next to the earlier comments to shut up sarak355!

      sarak355, I hope you do not return…


      • sarak355

        Responding to Charles posing as sarak355: Charles,

        Why aren’t you using your own screenname? What’s the point of using mine as some others have done above? Very odd. If you don’t like to see my screenname on this site, why would you use it and add yet another entry with my screenname? Who knows?
        Further, if you don’t like what someone writes and you know it, then you can just skip over it.
        I also responded to people who were directly responding to me. As I am doing to you.
        You said you hoped I wouldn’t return and then used my screenname. Wow. These are open forums anyway. Also no reason for people to write threatening and hateful things.


        • Sarak355

          Wow, what a paranoid schitzo eh?


          • Sarak355

            Why dont you just leave me alone?
            I am just giving everyone the very great benefit of my vast experience of film psychology/.

            I really really know my shit, honestly!

            I am also a severe homo that enjoys dressing up in a vast variety of female dresses and undergarments/panties but that is not the point here ………………..


  45. sarak355

    Thanks SUFT.


  46. Techrishab

    well the movie was fantastic in terms of acting & cinematic drama but ultimately this was a immoral story showing a completely brutal way to attain success which should never be followed by anyone.


  47. syntacto

    You know your review presents the movie in better light. As for me I think Aronofsky’s magical mix tasted really bad. Here’s my take on it – http://treatfromtailors.blogspot.com/2011/03/black-and-white-must-merge-and-break.html


  48. Guest

    Enough already. Did Nina and Lily really get it on, or what?


  49. John

    The worst movie i’ve seen


  50. Lila 02

    Only an amazing film ! I’ve just loved it ! It isn’t just a drama or a thriler , it’s really a romance, a thriller AND a fantastic film !!! The actrice is just wonderfull !!!!! I LOVE THIS MOVIE <3 


  51. Anonymous

    Black
    swan, for me was one of those movies you just had to watch more than once. I
    think more than anything to kind of understand what everything meant. Overall
    it was a good movie and I would recommend it. The first time I saw it, I picked
    it up from blockbuster. It’s been years since I’ve been to blockbuster, and
    almost forgot how much I enjoy renting movies there. Blockbuster includes
    videogames whereas other companies such as Netflix do not & the movies at
    Blockbuster come out 28 days before Netflix. Being a customer and employee of
    DISH Network, I can say that from a consumer stand point that DISH was the way
    to go for me even before working here. Since the acquisition of Blockbuster,
    the company has only gotten better! http://bit.ly/l77URa
     


  52. Anonymous

    Black
    swan, for me was one of those movies you just had to watch more than once. I
    think more than anything to kind of understand what everything meant. Overall
    it was a good movie and I would recommend it. The first time I saw it, I picked
    it up from blockbuster. It’s been years since I’ve been to blockbuster, and
    almost forgot how much I enjoy renting movies there. Blockbuster includes
    videogames whereas other companies such as Netflix do not & the movies at
    Blockbuster come out 28 days before Netflix. Being a customer and employee of
    DISH Network, I can say that from a consumer stand point that DISH was the way
    to go for me even before working here. Since the acquisition of Blockbuster,
    the company has only gotten better! http://bit.ly/l77URa
     


  53. Anonymous

    Black
    swan, for me was one of those movies you just had to watch more than once. I
    think more than anything to kind of understand what everything meant. Overall
    it was a good movie and I would recommend it. The first time I saw it, I picked
    it up from blockbuster. It’s been years since I’ve been to blockbuster, and
    almost forgot how much I enjoy renting movies there. Blockbuster includes
    videogames whereas other companies such as Netflix do not & the movies at
    Blockbuster come out 28 days before Netflix. Being a customer and employee of
    DISH Network, I can say that from a consumer stand point that DISH was the way
    to go for me even before working here. Since the acquisition of Blockbuster,
    the company has only gotten better! http://bit.ly/l77URa
     


  54. Anonymous

    Black
    swan, for me was one of those movies you just had to watch more than once. I
    think more than anything to kind of understand what everything meant. Overall
    it was a good movie and I would recommend it. The first time I saw it, I picked
    it up from blockbuster. It’s been years since I’ve been to blockbuster, and
    almost forgot how much I enjoy renting movies there. Blockbuster includes
    videogames whereas other companies such as Netflix do not & the movies at
    Blockbuster come out 28 days before Netflix. Being a customer and employee of
    DISH Network, I can say that from a consumer stand point that DISH was the way
    to go for me even before working here. Since the acquisition of Blockbuster,
    the company has only gotten better! http://bit.ly/l77URa
     


  55. Troyaustin

    All I can say is; if Winona Ryder was younger she would “override” Portman in the acting
    department. A good plot, but badly executed. They missed so much that could have been said.
    The plot became more stuck than just the ballerina’s toes. :)



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