– 4 out of 5 stars

Black Swan is a psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, who’s vying for the role of the Swan Queen in her ballet company’s production of Swan Lake. Nina is the perfect fit for the White Swan while rival dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), is the perfect fit for the Black Swan.

From start to finish, I was completely riveted by Natalie Portman’s performance. You can sense her desperation to break out of her own shell to embody the character of the Black Swan. At the same time, she has to contend with her mother, a former ballerina who pins all her hopes on Nina, and controls almost every aspect of her life. The scene where her mother cuts Nina’s fingernails still send some shivers down my spine. That, and the other scene where Nina peels off a scab on her finger. OUCH! Don’t they use nail clippers? There’s also Beth, the company’s former star, who’s forced to go into early retirement as Nina rises to be the next star. To Nina, Beth is the symbol of perfection and she seems disturbed that Beth is being brushed away so blatantly by Thomas, her ballet director. Thomas, on the other hand, is constantly trying to push Nina out of her comfort zone, through loads of sexual harassment.

Thomas Leroy: Perfection is not just about control; it’s also about letting go.

She starts hallucinating and breaking down – blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. And so, Nina’s quest for perfection leads her to madness. The final scene was saddening, especially after what I heard Thomas call Nina. But at least Nina managed to deliver an exhilarating and perfect image of both the Black Swan and the White Swan.

As at time of post, Natalie Portman won Best Actress at the 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards and 68th Golden Globe Awards among others and the movie is up for five nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards.

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