The plot. This is a story about a ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman), who is chosen for the most coveted role of any ballerina, the swan queen in "Swan Lake". As she is frigid and strives only for perfection in her act, she makes an excellent white swan, but lacks the emotional depth for the black swan. She is instructed by a ruthless artistic director, who takes on a mission to get her into the desired emotional state to become a black swan. This is a story about a quiet frigid girl, a perfect white swan, transforming into the opposite, a black swan.
General thoughts. This movie surprised me. I knew, that this wasn't just a movie about ballet and just any old inner conflict. This is so much more. This is basically a story of a slightly schizophrenic ballerina, who completely loses it as stress hits an all-time high. A psychological thriller about ballet doesn't sound promising, I know, but apparently there is a lot to it.
This movie starts off as normal and with every passing minute gets more and more crazy. It starts with hints of visions, which progress into a deep psychosis and as the big night nears, she is slowly consumed by it. It's pretty much a text-book example of schizophrenia getting out of control due to stress. As described, Nina has always had problems which indicate something deeper. She is pampered by her mother, who doesn't let her live her life and that is also probably one of the reasons behind her psychological meltdown. There are all sorts of little signs of her pending insanity. Even the texture of her skin shows that everything isn't quite all right.
Natalie Portman was awarded an Academy Award for this performance as the female leading role. I think she deserves it. While for the more technical parts, actual ballerinas acted as body doubles for the actors, a lot of the ballet was actually done by Portman herself, who had ballet lessons as a child and then spent six months preparing for this role. While it is not uncommon for the actor to work hard for the preparation of the role, it is still commendable. She also did an excellent work portraying the emotional breakdown of a young fragile mind.
All in all, this was an excellent movie. One would think that this is the type of movie to inspire their children to do ballet, when in fact this would be a very unsuitable viewing for children. This movie doesn't popularize ballet, it is a story about a person, who breaks down due to stress. It has a lot of really weird and confusing moments and some of them aren't completely explained in the end, but if you're into psychological thrillers, you'll love this one. Ballet is serious business.