Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Millepied, Ksenia Solo, Kristina Anapau, Janet Montgomery, Sebastian Stan, Toby Hemingway
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
Psychological horror directed by Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan (2010) follows Nina (Natalie Portman), a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When artistic director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), decides to replace prima ballerina, Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder), for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. However, she has competition in newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis). While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina’s dark side begins to emerge and threatens to destroy her.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Nina Sayers: I had the craziest dream last night. I was dancing the white swan. It was different choreography though, it was more like the Bolshoi’s. It was the prologue, when Rothbart casts his spell.
Veronica: Did you see Beth today? I can’t believe she’s back.
Galina: Of course she’s back.
Veronica: Don’t know why she can’t take a hint. The company’s broke, no one comes to see her anymore.
Madeline: Nobody actually comes to see ballet full stop.
Veronica: That’s not true. I hear the Royal had one of their best season yet.
Galina: He just needs to try something new that’s all.
Veronica: No. Someone new.
Madeline: Like who?
Veronica: Like someone who’s not approaching menopause.
Nina Sayers: It’s sad.
Veronica: What’s sad?
Nina Sayers: Beth’s such a beautiful dancer.
Galina: Yeah, so is my grandmother.
Nina Sayers: Well, Fonteyn danced into her fifties.
Veronica: [sarcastically] Yeah, we know.
Thomas Leroy: [to the soloists] We all know the story. Virginal girl, pure, and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan. She desires freedom, but only true love can break the spell. Her wish is nearly granted in the form of a prince. But before he can declare his love, her lustful twin, the Black Swan, tricks and seduces him. Devastated, the White Swan leaps off a cliff, killing herself, and in death finds freedom.
Thomas Leroy: We open our season with Swan Lake. Done to death I know, but not like this. We strip it down, make it visceral and real. A new production needs a new Swan Queen. A fresh face to present to the world. But which of you can embody both swans? The white and the black? All the soloists I tapped go to your scheduled rehearsals this afternoon. And the girls I didn’t tap, meet me at the principle studio at five. Thank you.
[he walks away and Nina smiles to herself as he hadn’t tapped her]
Thomas Leroy: If that was only casting the White Swan, she’d be yours. But I’m not. Maestro, Odile’s coda, please. Now show me your Black Swan, Nina.
Thomas Leroy: [as Nina begins to dance] Not so controlled! Seduce us! Not just the Prince, but the court. The audience, the entire world! Come on! The fouetteés are like a spider spinning her web. Attack it! Attack it! Come on!
[suddenly Lily opens the door and Nina loses her focus and stumbles]
Nina Sayers: [after Lily enters the room] Should I go again?
Thomas Leroy: No. Thanks, Nina. I’ve seen enough.
Erica Sayers: You’re working yourself too hard. We all have off days.
Nina Sayers: [referring to Lily] If that girl hadn’t barged in.
Erica Sayers: I’m sure she didn’t mean to. Remember when you first started? I hadn’t taken you to each of your classes, you would have been completely lost.
Nina Sayers: [referring to Thomas] I’m going to talk to him tomorrow. I’m going to tell him I finished it.
Erica Sayers: You don’t need to lie. It won’t convince him one way or the other. Oh, sweetheart. I know it’s disappointing. And when you start getting older, there’s all this ridiculous pressure. God knows I understand. But it’s alright. No matter what. You’ll probably get to dance the Pas de Quatre again. That’s such a wonderful part. Or maybe he’ll make you a Big Swan. Either way, you’ll shine.
Nina Sayers: I know.
Erica Sayers: Everything will be better in the morning. It always is. Sweet girl.
Nina Sayers: I just wanted to tell you that I practiced the coda last night and I finished. I thought you should know.
Thomas Leroy: Okay, Nina, listen. Honestly, I don’t care about your technique. You should know that by now.
Nina Sayers: Yeah, but yesterday…
Thomas Leroy: No. Anyway, I’ve already chosen Veronica, so.
Thomas Leroy: That’s it? You’re not going to try and change my mind? You must have thought it was possible. Otherwise, what are you doing here all dolled up?
Nina Sayers: I came to ask for the part.
Thomas Leroy: Well, the truth is, when I look at you, all I see is the White Swan. Yes, you’re beautiful, fearful, fragile. Ideal casting. But the Black Swan, it’s a hard f***ing job to dance both.
Nina Sayers: I can dance the Black Swan too.
Thomas Leroy: Really? In four years, every time you dance, I see you obsess, getting each and every move perfectly right. But I never see you lose yourself. Ever. All that discipline, for what?
Nina Sayers: I just want to be perfect.
Thomas Leroy: You what?
Nina Sayers: I want to be perfect.
Thomas Leroy: Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. Surprise yourself, so you can surprise the audience. Transcendence. And very few have it in them.
Nina Sayers: I think I do have it in me.
Thomas Leroy: [suddenly he kisses her hard] Aahh! You bit me?! I can’t believe you bit me!
Nina Sayers: I’m sorry.
Thomas Leroy: Now, that f***ing hurt!
Nina Sayers: [over phone, referring to Thomas] I’m fine. He picked me, Mommy. Did you hear me?
Erica Sayers: For Swan Lake?
Nina Sayers: I’m going to be the new Swan Queen.
Thomas Leroy: [to Nina after she’s finished her rehearsal dance] Thank you, Nina. It’s very nice. Very nice. But I knew the White Swan wouldn’t be a problem. The real work will be your metamorphosis into her evil twin, and I know I saw a flash of her yesterday. So get ready to give me more of that bite.
Thomas Leroy: [to Nina, referring to Lily] Watch the way she moves. Imprecise, but effortless. She’s not faking it.
'The only person standing in your way is you.' - Thomas Leroy (Black Swan) Click To Tweet
Thomas Leroy: [at the fund raiser gala] As we all know, every great career has to come to an end. Beth is retiring at the end of the season. She will be giving her farewell performance as Melpomene, the role she originated in my first ballet. My little princess, we honor you. You will be greatly missed and never forgotten. But as we bid adieu to one star, we welcome another! We’re opening our season with my new version of Swan Lake. Taking the role of our new Swan Queen, the exquisite, Nina Sayers. You’ll soon have the pleasure of seeing her perform, but right now please let’s raise a glass, to all of us, to Beth, to Nina, to beauty!
Lily: [referring to Nina being the new Swan Queen] Oh, you must be so excited. Oh! Are you freaking out?
Nina Sayers: Yeah.
Lily: Yeah? Oh, it’s okay. I’d be losing my mind.
Nina Sayers: Beth. I’m so sorry to hear you’re leaving the company.
Beth Macintyre: Oh. What did you do to get this role? Huh? He always said you were such a frigid little girl. What did you do to make him change his mind? Did you suck his c**k?
Nina Sayers: Not all of us have to.
Beth Macintyre: You f***ing whore! You f***ing little whore!
Beth Macintyre: I need to talk to you!
Thomas Leroy: I think you should go home.
Beth Macintyre: No! Don’t you do that! Don’t you dismiss me like that!
Thomas Leroy: Beth, my little princess. Please, hold it together.
Thomas Leroy: [to Nina] Come on.
Beth Macintyre: I’m coming by later. I have something for you. It’s a token of my appreciation.
Thomas Leroy: Right.
Beth Macintyre: You make the most of it, Nina!
Thomas Leroy: So, you got a boyfriend?
Nina Sayers: No.
Thomas Leroy: And you had many in the past?
Nina Sayers: A few, but no one serious.
Thomas Leroy: You’re not a virgin, are you?
Nina Sayers: No.
Thomas Leroy: Well, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. And you enjoy making love?
Nina Sayers: Excuse me?
Thomas Leroy: Oh, come on. Sex, do you enjoy it? Well, we need to be able to talk about this.
Thomas Leroy: [to Nina] I got a little homework assignment for you. Go home and touch yourself. Live a little.
Erica Sayers: [referring to fund raising gala] Sounds like quite and evening. I wish I could have been there.
Nina Sayers: You know I asked.
Erica Sayers: I know you did. Susie told me. Guess he wanted you all to himself.
Nina Sayers: That’s not why.
Erica Sayers: I don’t blame him.
Nina Sayers: [referring to the scratch marks on her back] It’s just a rash.
Erica Sayers: Just a rash? What are you talking about?
Nina Sayers: It was worse a few days ago. It’s fine already.
Erica Sayers: You’ve been scratching yourself again.
Nina Sayers: No, I haven’t. Mom.
Erica Sayers: I thought you’d outgrown this disgusting habit.
Nina Sayers: [referring to Beth being in hospital] What happened?
Thomas Leroy: She walked into the street and got hit by a car. And you know what? I’m almost sure she did it on purpose.
Nina Sayers: How do you know?
Thomas Leroy: Because everything Beth does comes from within, from some dark impulse. I guess that’s what makes her so thrilling to watch. So dangerous. Even perfect at times. But also so damned destructive.
Nina Sayers: Was it right after we saw her?
Thomas Leroy: Oh, no. Wait, wait, wait. This has nothing to do with you. It’s not your problem, so don’t let yourself be distracted. This is your moment, Nina. Don’t let it go.
Thomas Leroy: [as Nina is rehearsing] And, come on! Forget about control, Nina! I want to see passion! Come on! Reach! More! You’re stiff! Stiff like a dead corpse! Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! And again.
'When you start getting older, there's all this ridiculous pressure.' - Erica Sayers (Black Swan) Click To Tweet
Thomas Leroy: [referring to Nina] David, can I ask you a question? Honestly, would you f*** that girl? No. No one would. Nina, you’re dancing is just as frigid.
Thomas Leroy: [as he dances with Nina] Feel my touch, respond to it. Come on. Open your mouth. Open your mouth. Open it. Open it! Open it.
Thomas Leroy: [after he kisses her seductively] That was me seducing you, when it needs to be the other way around.
Lily: So, do you want to talk about it?
Nina Sayers: I just had a hard day.
Lily: Leroy playing a little too rough for you? Come on, Nina. He’s a p**ck!
Nina Sayers: He’s brilliant.
Lily: Sure, but it’s not like he’s all warm and fuzzy.
Nina Sayers: Well, you don’t know him.
Lily: Someone’s hot for teacher. Oh, come on. It’s okay. I don’t blame you.
Nina Sayers: I should go home.
Lily: Nina, come on. I’m just playing around.
Thomas Leroy: Maybe you need a little break. Like a day or two.
Nina Sayers: Thomas.
Thomas Leroy: Or maybe a month. What do you think?
Nina Sayers: [referring to Lily] She shouldn’t have said anything.
Thomas Leroy: No, you shouldn’t be whining in the first place.
Nina Sayers: I didn’t!
Thomas Leroy: You could be brilliant, but you’re a coward.
Nina Sayers: I’m sorry.
Thomas Leroy: Stop saying that! That’s exactly what I’m talking about! Stop being so f***ing weak!
Nina Sayers: You told Thomas about last night?
Lily: Oh, yeah. I ran into him in the morning. He said you guys were having some trouble.
Nina Sayers: Why would he talk to you?
Lily: Excuse me, Your Highness. I just told him that you were working your a** off, and that I think you’d be great.
Nina Sayers: Well, you shouldn’t have.
Erica Sayers: [referring to Thomas] Has he tried anything with you? He has a reputation. I have a right to be concerned, Nina. You’ve been staying late so many nights rehearsing. I hope he isn’t taking advantage, that’s all.
Nina Sayers: He’s not.
Erica Sayers: Good. I just don’t want you to make the same mistake I did.
Nina Sayers: Thanks.
Erica Sayers: Not like that. I just mean as far as my career was concerned.
Nina Sayers: What career?
Erica Sayers: The one I gave up to have you.
Nina Sayers: You were twenty-eight.
Erica Sayers: So?
Nina Sayers: And only in the…
Erica Sayers: Only what?
Nina Sayers: Nothing.
Erica Sayers: What?
Nina Sayers: Nothing!