This film is directed by Darren Aronofsky whose previous work includes The Wrestler and Requiem For A Dream. It tells the story of a young ballerina (played by Natalie Portman) who is in contention for the lead role in Swan Lake.
Her single mother – a former ballerina herself, who did not fulfill all her own ambitions pushes her daughter to be her surrogate in triumph, and malignly dominates her life. Their home environment is pressurized, manipulative and disturbing.
The director of the ballet – a creepy and also manipulative character played with élan by Vincent Cassel – introduces a rival for the role into the equation. It is never clear if this other girl (played by Mila Kunis – who is possibly this decade’s Eliza Dushku) is friend or foe. In fact the style of the film is one of whole-hearted ambiguity: we are often not sure what is real and what are terrible imaginings.
The film has a claustrophobic feel, enhanced by the closeness of the camera work. There are striking sequences as, for example, when Natalie Portman becomes the Black Swan. And in the climax of the film the real and the imagined intermingle to disturbing effect