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Black Swan

3.7 out of 5 stars 1,167 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

“You can’t tear your eyes away” (Entertainment Weekly) from this “wicked, psychosexual thriller” (Daily Variety) starring ACADEMY AWARD® WINNER Natalie Portman* and directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler ). Portman delivers “the performance of her career” (Vanity Fair ) as Nina, a stunningly talented but dangerously unstable ballerina on the verge of stardom. Pushed to the breaking point by her driven artistic director (Vincent Cassel) and the threat posed by a seductive rival dancer (Mila Kunis), Nina’s tenuous grip on reality starts to slip away – plunging her into a waking nightmare.

Amazon.com

Feverish worlds such as espionage and warfare have nothing on the hothouse realm of ballet, as director Darren Aronofsky makes clear in Black Swan, his over-the-top delve into a particularly fraught production of Swan Lake. At the very moment hard-working ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) lands the plum role of the White Swan, her company director (Vincent Cassel) informs her that she'll also play the Black Swan--and while Nina's precise, almost virginal technique will serve her well in the former role, the latter will require a looser, lustier attack. The strain of reaching within herself for these feelings, along with nattering comments from her mother (Barbara Hershey) and the perceived rivalry from a new dancer (Mila Kunis), are enough to make anybody crack… and tracing out the fault lines of Nina's breakdown is right in Aronofsky's wheelhouse. Those cracks are broad indeed, as Nina's psychological instability is telegraphed with blunt-force emphasis in this neurotic roller-coaster ride. The characters are stick figures--literally, in the case of the dancers, but also as single-note stereotypes in the horror show: witchy bad mommy, sexually intimidating male boss, wacko diva (Winona Ryder, as the prima ballerina Nina is replacing). Yet the film does work up some crazed momentum (and undeniably earned its share of critical raves), and the final sequence is one juicy curtain-dropper. A good part of the reason for this is the superbly all-or-nothing performance by Natalie Portman, who packs an enormous amount of ferocity into her small body. Kudos, too, to Tchaikovsky's incredibly durable music, which has meshed well with psychological horror at least since being excerpted for the memorably moody opening credits of the 1931 Dracula, another pirouette through the dark side. --Robert Horton

Special Features

Metamorphosis : A behind-the-scenes documentary with Darren Aronofsky

Product Details

  • Actors: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder
  • Directors: Darren Aronofsky
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2011
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,167 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0041KKYEM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,226 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Swan" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Doyle on May 12, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's easy to see that Darren Aronofsky was influenced by the classic THE RED SHOES ('48), except that the '48 film did not telegraph its tragic ending which came as somewhat of an abrupt surprise. On the other hand, BLACK SWAN telegraphs its outcome from Scene One, the major fault of the film which ends on an extremely downbeat note.

The highlight of BLACK SWAN is the presentation of the ballet music and all of the behind-the-scenes tension brought on by the determination of ballet maestro VINCENT CASSEL to find a dancer who can be both The White Swan and The Black Swan with equal expertise. He is impressed by NATALIE PORTMAN's skill as The White Swan but tells her she must experience life and love to the utmost in order to provide the proper passion for her darker side as the evil swan. It's hard to believe that he doesn't spot the flaws in her personality that make her unable to face the demands of the ballet world. However, he's excellent in his role, as is MILA KUNIS as her cunning rival.

Portman's mother (BARBARA HERSHEY) seems to be as neurotic as her unstable daughter in a Mommie Dearest sort of way. Their scenes together amp up what we know is bound to be a fatalistic end to an unhappy story. As the rival ballerina, MILA KUNIS provides plenty of jealousy for Portman, already unnerved by the demands that Cassel places on her emoting. Inevitably, Portman is pushed over the edge by all of her hallucinations and insecurities until she falls into a pit of darkness from which there is no escape.

Portman's skill as an actress is evident, overcoming any objections some might have to the heavy use of a body double for the difficult ballet moves. She gives her character dimension and pity, despite the unpleasant aspects of the character's irritating personality.
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Darren Aronofsky has been circling movie news sites pretty frequently as of late. He recently signed on to direct the stand-alone sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (appropriately titled The Wolverine). He also developed a rather large and devoted fanbase over the course of directing fantastically surreal films such as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Wrestler, but his psychological thriller Black Swan has also been gaining quite a bit of steam leading up to its December 3rd release. Despite Aronofsky's already well-established reputation and the rather high anticipation for the film, Black Swan still delivers a product that is even better than expected.

Like most ballerinas, Nina (Portman) lives, breathes, and is completely devoted to dance. Artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) is preparing a new spring production of his interpretation of Swan Lake. Nina is next in line to become prima ballerina after the former dancer to hold that spot, Beth Macintyre (Ryder), reluctantly retires. Everything seems to be shifting in that direction until a rather unorthodox, provocative, and unstable (in a dangerous kind of way) dancer named Lily (Kunis) arrives. Lily seems to have an eye for Nina's spot as soon as she walks through the door. Thomas begins to see Nina as the White Swan, which signifies innocence and perfection and Lily as the Black Swan, which is more sensual and deceptive. The problem is that one dancer is required to play both parts. Other than the stiff competition she has to deal with, The Swan Queen role begins to take its toll on Nina who begins to think Lily wants even more than her spot in the production. Nina's obsessive behavior leads to her releasing her dark side that she must now struggle to control.
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With a story based on Russian folk tales, Pyotr Tchaikovsky composed SWAN LAKE about 1875. Although it was not well received on its debut, over time the ballet has become a world-wide favorite, and it is particularly noted for the fact that the prima ballerina must play both the virginal White Swan "Odette" and her alter ego, the wanton and evil Black Swan "Odile." Directed by Darren Aronofsky and with story and script fashioned by writers Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, and John McLaughlin, BLACK SWAN pivots on this schism--and owes a significant debt to three other notable films: PERSONA, in which two women have a relationship that confuses their personalities; THE RED SHOES, in which a ballerina becomes excessively involved in her role; and REPULSION, in which a sexually disturbed young woman collapses into insanity. The film also owes a debt to such films as MULHOLLAND DR in the sense that it is difficult to know what is really happening to the ballerina and what is only occurring in her own mind.

In a general sense, the story concerns ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), who has spent her career in the corps de ballet and whose great ambition as a dancer is to be absolutely perfect--an ambition that has rendered her flawless in precision but a shade lacking in passion. When the company's leading ballerina Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder) is essentially dismissed due to increasing age and an unstable temperment, Nina is announced as the star of a new production of SWAN LAKE. Her confidence, however, is undermined by competing ballerina Lily (Mila Kunis), her suffocating mother (Barbara Hershey), and her choreographer (Vincent Cassel.
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