I saw Black Swan last night. No, I’m not going to ruin it for you – and yet, I hope that this mini review is not so vague that it’s confusing. But first I want to say that I’m not a hype guy. Because of the hype swirling around Black Swan, I expected to leave the theater shaking my head and cursing the critics. Boy was I wrong.

Black Swan is the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a dancer in a ballet company who lands the lead role in a version of Swan Lake that requires she dance both the wholesome, innocent white swan part, as well as a sultry, deceptive black swan – which represents the white swan’s counterweight.

Nina is a perfectionist and the most technically proficient dancer in her company. During rehearsals, she effortlessly dances a flawless white swan. It’s the black swan that gives her nightmares. Where the white swan is pure, the black swan is sinister. Where the white swan dances with perfect form, the black swan is reckless. It’s a tough transition for the young dancer who is pushed by others throughout the film only to learn that the most important push she needs comes from within. Eventually, on opening night, Nina gives in to the black swan, but not without great sacrifice. She dances Swan Lake to an appreciative full house – and in the end, she is perfect.

But let’s stop there. This isn’t a movie about a dancer, it’s the movie about the collision of opposing universal themes. They’re all here. White and black. Light and darkness. Reality and delusion. Innocence and experience. Control and chaos. Good and evil. Life and death. And unlike movies that rely on visual tricks and uneven plot lines, one of the beautiful things about Black Swan is that it hides nothing. Only, you don’t realize it until the screen fades to white.

Go see Black Swan, but don’t go see it for the stunning art direction, believable acting or lesbian sex scene – go see it for the story. And when you do, keep in mind that mirrors rarely reflect the truth.

This is a damn near perfect story.



Jim Mitchem

Ripping the Soul Out of a Child
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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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