'Black Swan' and the lengths people go to to achieve perfection.

BLACK SWAN - Natalie Portman Poster | Sold at EuropostersStory

Nina is a talented ballerina but is a perfectionist. When she is cast as the lead role in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, she starts to lose her grip on reality and in turn her sanity.

The story is multi-layered which makes the movie as a whole more enjoyable. We follow Nina as she struggles to cope with the stress of the role which is the main focus but the story also focuses on power dynamics, mental and physical health, as well as jealousy. And due to the complex layout of the film, I didn't catch a lot of the themes the first time I watched the movie.


This movie won Natalie Portman an Oscar and for good reason, she's phenomenal in this movie. Characters like Nina can come across as annoying and while I got a sense of that at the beginning, that feeling was lost very quickly. Even though Nina is timid and shy you can tell that there is more to her than meets the eye. Nina's character changes as the film goes on due to her weakening mental state and even though the change is drastic it feels organic, she still feels like the same character at the end of the movie, albeit one that has been through it.

The supporting characters are also very crucial to the story, the most important being Lily played by Mila Kunis, she is Nina's polar opposite and because of that, she's seen as a threat not just by Nina but by the audience as well. Her character is very much a necessary evil and even though she isn't as complex a character as Nina (not even close) you see her through multiple lenses which makes her more fascinating as the film goes on.

I also have to mention that Sebastian Stan is in this movie, though it's more like a glorified cameo and I felt like I had to address it.


The writing in this movie is multi-layered, and that's what makes movies like this interesting to review. Nina is by far the most complex character in the movie but that is not to say the other characters are badly written, quite the opposite. It's fascinating to see what makes them tick and motivates them even for a few moments.

The movie was directed by Darren Aronofsky. He's known for artistic movies with deeper meaning and this one is no different, it makes one think about the lengths they would go to reach perfection, and the immense pressure they're under to reach that goal. And while we may not have the same experience and reaction as Nina, I'm sure everyone has felt the pressure to be great at some point or another. That is what makes the movie relatable.

The tonal shifts in this film are done so well, it starts as a drama but morphs into a psychological thriller, then a horror movie and while I noticed the changes, it wasn't jarring. The tone of the film changes in the same way Nina does and because the two are so closely linked you're following both very closely.

CGI/Set Design 

While CGI isn't the focus of the film, it was used in scenes where Natalie Portman's double was dancing, and the two are blended so well, I honestly couldn't see  a difference
There was some controversy surrounding said double when the film was released and you can read the full story in this article.

The Set Design isn't the focus of the film either, it's very contemporary and almost boring and I have a feeling that was on purpose so the characters and their actions stand out more than their surroundings. The colours in this film are very muted and soft with a lot of grey, taupes and pink.
The movie as a whole isn't very aesthetically pleasing and looks very basic which isn't a bad thing per se.


The score in this movie is brilliant it uses music from Tchaikovsky as well as original music composed by Clint Mansell. What I love about the score is the auditory links to the story, as the story reached its peak so does the score. It also serves as a link to what is real and what isn't. I wouldn't call the score iconic but it does a fantastic job of carrying the story along. We know exactly what is going on and how we are supposed to feel based on the score alone. It has an ethereal quality to it and because of that, it sets the tone of the film perfectly.

Overall Thoughts

I really liked Black Swan. More so now than when I saw it the first time. It is so much more than I thought it was. While the characters aren't the most relatable people you can empathise with them especially Nina and because of that, the movie feels real. This isn't the kind of movie you watch all the time but it is one that leaves an impact. This film much like a lot of Aronofsky's films are divisive, and while I can understand why some wouldn't like the film, I really enjoyed it and would watch it again. (not anytime soon though)