The final line of the film is “It was perfect” and that is an almost perfect review of the film, the film is not perfect but it is so close. I believe this was my fourth or fifth time watching this film and I have adored it just as much as when I first saw it and I manage to pick up on more layers of the film and on certain aspects.
Firstly, let me say that the sound design is incredible, most of the sound effects are created using bird noises and it is done so creatively that I didn’t realise until my third viewing of the film. This is the kind of technical prowess that has been put in to this film that takes it above any other film like it. This is by far, in my opinion of course, Darren Aronofsky’s best film by a huge margin. Everything about the film is perfectly placed and pitched so that, like a ballet, it flows naturally with a feeling of grandeur.
The camera work in this film is perfection, focusing on a tight frame just shooting the characters from chest up for the most part until a ballet scene where it changes to a beautiful wide shot giving the viewers the freedom that comes with dancing. The tight shots, especially when it is just Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, not only allow us to focus on Nina’s face and facial reactions but almost effortlessly create this sense of tension, which is representing how trapped Nina feels. As the film progresses, the tight shots get more interesting as Nina becomes increasingly more unhinged and Portman’s acting truly comes in to play.
Speaking of Portman, she is phenomenal as Nina, finding the perfect balance between her light side and her dark side, she excels with both parts so much so that it feels like it is two different actresses, which is the point and is absolutely commendable. As for the others, Mila Kunis was great as the cocky, carefree and ultimate rival to Nina, Lily and Vincent Cassel is also great as the demanding instructor Thomas. Barbara Hershey plays Nina’s mother, Erica, and she is excellent in the role, providing some explanation as to what is happening with Nina as her mother is thoroughly unhinged.
Throughout the film, even at the beginning Aronofsky was hinting towards a mental illness/split personalities as often, there is a reflection, or even more than one of Nina’s face, they start off innocent enough, but as the film progresses and Nina’s descent in to madness heightens the reflections become more sinister and focused.
This film is absolutely a must watch for anyone who wants to watch a great, unique take on mental illness. It is thrilling, exciting and oft times unnerving, go watch it.