In case you have been living on Mars for the last few weeks, this is a fairly straight-forward plot. Natalie Portman plays Nina, the very talented ballerina on the cusp of becoming the prima ballerina - if only she could loosen up enough to play both the black and white swan in the company's production of Swan Lake, as the role is typically played by the same person.
It might seem straight-forward on the surface but this plot is anything but. You will by now have heard all the Oscar talk and let me just say it is deserved. Natalie Portman, who can do no wrong - let's be honest, has never been this good. She is jaw-droppingly good in this and her gradual descent into the land of crazy is gripping and intoxicating.
But (yes there is a but) what the people failed to warn us poor innocent viewers is that this film is grotesque! I am not easily shocked but had to look away on a number of occasions as graphically violent and vulgar scenes unravelled before my eyes. It still makes me shiver thinking of her pulling at the skin she has cut by her finger. Certainly not for the faint-hearted. Or perhaps if you are faint-hearted and really want to see it then take someone who has seen it already and they can warn you when to look away.
Let me just say that despite its moments of grotesque, this film is the best film I have seen in YEARS yes years! I was gripped from start to finish, compelled by whether what I was seeing on screen was really happening or was simply in Nina's head. By the end, I was past caring either way - it was just that good to watch. Much like Nina, I was left hungry and thirsty for more. It certainly stayed with me long after I left the cinema *I currently have the Swan Lake score playing on Spotify!*. Oh and the ballet sequences are spectacular too!
What made The King's Speech so brilliant was it's phenomenal cast and personable characters. The whole film was very real and character based. In total contrast, what makes this film so brilliant is it's descent into the imagined, the sinister, the theatrical and the very very dark mind of Nina.
Helping her along her journey into darkness is the fantastic Mila Kunis (more widely known as the voice of Meg in Family Guy!) who is funny and brilliant in her own right. She easily captures the black swan role from the outset, being as good as Nina but more relaxed, more cool, less clinically perfect. Nina finds herself both drawn to her new rival and angered by her as she sees her as her threat and how their relationship develops is simply incredible on both parts.
So brace yourselves but definitely go and see it - go and see it right now and then go home and put on the soundtrack and then perhaps go and see a ballet - they're not appreciated nearly as much as they should be.
P.S Little footnote to the boys - if you get 'dragged' along to this by lady friends, reluctantly agree because that's just how nice you are - there's a nice little treat for you in there, trust me :)
Rating: 5 out of 5 FOBLES