Like many little girls, I once dreamed of being a prima ballerina, but the new ballet-based film Black Swan is more the stuff of nightmares.
It’s a psychological thriller that tells the story of a young ballet dancer, Nina – acted brilliantly by Natalie Portman – with a burning ambition to win the lead role of the Swan Queen in her ballet school’s production of Swan Lake.
The Swan Queen is a highly demanding role, requiring the chosen ballerina to dance both as Odille – the white swan – and also as her nemesis Odette, the evil black swan. Nina is ambitious, but she’s also painfully shy and naïve, so while the dance of the fragile white swan comes easily to her, capturing the spirit of the evil seductress black swan becomes a torturous mental battle that unhinges her grip on reality.
As a ballet fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and was captivated from start to finish. It was fascinating to watch as Nina becomes increasingly caught between the pressures of the bitchy, competitive ballet school and the stifling relationship with her mother at home. Portman is thoroughly convincing in the role, deserving every inch of her Oscar and I love how the film’s plot reflects that of the ballet itself so perfectly. As Nina’s mind begins to unravel, the pace builds to an exhilarating crescendo. The costumes, music and effects of the final performance are breathtaking, with enough plot twists along the way to keep you gripped.
It’s probably worth noting that I’d persuaded my other half to accompany me to watch this film, but as he knows and cares nothing about ballet he really didn’t enjoy it at all. While it’s in no way a traditional ’chickflick’, it is a very female-heavy cast with all the action firmly centred around the ballet school. So unless your other half is particularly into classical dance or the theatre, best leave him at home and watch this one with your girlfriends instead.