The film revolves around a stellar performance by Natalie Portman and mirrors the conflict between good and evil in Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake.” Nina (Portman) doesn’t only throw herself into her art, but also ends up throwing herself over the deep end.
Nina’s entire life has been devoted to ballet. Encouraged and coddled by her ex-ballerina mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), Nina is chosen for the role of the swan queen - a role that calls for the dancer to show duality – the White Swan is pure and fragile; the Black Swan is assertive and sensuous.
After firing his former prima ballerina and lover Beth McIntyre (Winona Ryder), the dance company director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is an arrogant playboy who knows that the sheltered Nina can play the White Swan, but finds her too demure to play the Black Swan.
The film unfolds quite typically, drawing you into the backstage rivalries and the dark depths of jealousy. There is tension between Nina and Thomas and then Nina and Lily (Mila Kunis), a new dancer. Lily is the antithesis of Nina: bold, free-spirited, and confident.
The style and approach that Aronofsky uses in the film is effective in portraying a downward spiral into madness. The utilization of specific special effects add to the story. The use of light, shade, angle, speed and color in the film seem to coincide beautifully with Nina’s emotional arc in the story.
“Black Swan” is essentially trippy and weird. Nevertheless, it is quite important to not focus on trying to figure out what happened in the film, but on what the film represents – that extreme passion for anything can ultimately drive one over the edge.