Nina is a very typical ballerina obsessively consumed with the New York City ballet company where she is desperate to be plucked from the Corps to be a Principal. Egged on by her former ballerina mother Erica who is desperate that her daughter gets the big break that she never had, and so exerts a suffocating control over her. When the autocratic artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace the prima ballerina for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, his first choice is Nina. However the role has two personas and whilst she fits the pure White Swan role perfectly, there is a newer, more sensuous dancer Lily who is the personification of the darker Black Swan and so becomes Nina’s rival. As the two young dancers develop a very twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side, which ultimately threatens to destroy her.
This is a wonderful melodrama and all the different relationships in the story are as dramatic and as passionate as the ballet itself and the tension never really lets up, except on the odd occasion when its let down by some stilted script. Natalie Portman as Nina gives her best performance to date and is so convincing as the tortured dancer we can forgive the fact that is not really her we see dancing on the screen most of the time. It is very much her picture although Mila Kunis as Lily is quite remarkable, as is Barbara Hershey as the mother and Vincent Cassel as the intimidating Director. And I totally did not recognize Winona Ryder in her turn as the retiring prima ballerina.
R.T.V. It is one unquestionably one of the best movies of the year and my only issue with it is the fact that director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) intended this to be a psychological thriller but with the sheer amount of blood and violence it seemed a tad more like a scary horror movie to me