sat 22/06/2024

DVD: Black Swan | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Black Swan

DVD: Black Swan

She couldn't have danced all night, but Natalie Portman deserved her Oscar

In 'Black Swan', Natalie Portman had to journey to the dark side

The career of Natalie Portman has always had more light than shade. Even her lapdancing sylph in Closer erred towards the porcelain. Casting her in Black Swan was a calculated risk by Darren Aronofsky.

The journey of her prim prima ballerina Nina towards a fatal knowledge of the dark side is mirrored in Portman’s odyssey as an actress in a compelling performance which deservedly won her an Academy Award.

You probably need a big screen for all the colours to come out. Portman’s emotional march takes her from demure containment to a kind of orgasmic hallucinatory hysteria, and not just in the very naughty scene with Mila Kunis as the dancer snapping ambitiously at her heels (this is not a film to watch with a ballet-mad daughter).

So what do you get from the DVD? Not a lot of extras on my copy, though the only interesting background information you really need would spill the beans on Portman’s year-long training and of course the extent to which her body double is deployed in the film (who went public after Portman did not thank her in her Oscar speech). To unpick the seamless joins, there will no doubt be ballet snobs watching the many dance sequences who will make full use of the pause and rewind buttons.

Vincent Cassel is all Gallic flounce as Nina's predatory Svengali in a performance which, knowing nothing of the world, I’m not taking to be documentary realism. Barbara Hershey plays Portman’s thwarted, infantilising mother as if she watched Carrie just before coming on set. Indeed, ballet fans who don't want their illusions shattered probably need to steer clear of this release altogether. I’m still puzzling over the Gothic horror of the ending, and may need to go back and watch it again. But the one scene which anyone could and should see over and over features Portman’s pretty little face weeping tears of joy after she’s learnt she has landed the part in Swan Lake. No matter that it will eventually destroy her.

Watch the trailer to Black Swan

Portman’s emotional march takes her from demure containment to a kind of orgasmic hallucinatory hysteria

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters