I went to see Black Swan having heard that it was a must-see, but knowing little of the plot and having few expectations. I can honestly say I was blown away.
Natalie Portman's portrayal of Nina, a young ballerina feeling the pressure of being cast in her first leading role, is spot on. Portman manages, impressively, to present the fragility of a young girl in a seductive world suffering with mental illnesses and a difficult mother. Yet, is also pitch-perfect in Nina's darker moments where she is ambitious and deceitful. This is Portman reaching new heights, showcasing her acting expertise.
Nina's part in the production depends on her ability to delve into her darker side, as she does panic attacks and delusions become a regular occurrence. The viewer watches as Nina's performance improves and her mental health rapidly deteriorates. There is a fusion between an artistic breakthrough and a nervous breakdown.
The film is glossy and glamorous, exciting and very scary. Putting to one side, the astounding acting and the 'on the edge of your seat' plot, the film is also visually impressive. No detail is left to chance. The close up camera shots, grainy photography and behind the shoulder tracking of Nina may seem like obvious tricks to build tension, but the truth is these tricks work. And a consistent palette of black and white interior serve to emphasise the battle between Nina's own black and white swan. And, the dancing alone is reason enough to see this film; it is beautiful.
This is a thoroughly accomplished film. I would be surprised if Portman does not win Best Actress at the Oscars, she definitely deserves to.