Luke Robertson’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was not what I was expecting.
Natalie Portman delivers one of the best performances I have ever seen in this film. She is the embodiment of the story, Swan Lake, in this film. She goes from beautiful to terrifying all in the blink of an eye. The story is a literal telling of the story of Swan Lake in my eyes as we watch Nina change from the perfect White Swan into the Black Swan. Portman owns the role and I feel every intense moment with her. The academy certainly got it right giving her the best actress Oscar for this performance. It makes me even more upset that she has thus far been wasted in the MCU because she is so supremely talented.
The story itself is also brilliant to watch and watch as Nina's mind falls further and further into darkness. I think what makes it so interesting is the fact that you have no idea what is real or not. Did she attack that person? Some scenes are thrown into question your sense of reality and imagination.
Black Swan also touches on some peoples need to be the best and reach their absolute peak in their career. Nina does this in the film but then the paranoia around that sets in. When you're the best it is very easy to allow yourself to put up walls. Nina does this and those walls quickly begin to close in all around her.
The final performance at the end of the film is by far my favourite scene. Seeing her final transformation into the Black Swan is cinema magic. She completely lets herself go in the role and the music carries the scene along nicely. You know that this is her moment and all of the pressure around her subsides as she gasps in the audience's adoration. Then there is her fall, when she realises what she has done, and that leads to a fantastic finale. I felt sad for her, knowing what would happen, but also I felt a total relief that she had achieved what she wanted.
I would recommend this film to you and it is right on that border for 5 stars for me. After a rewatch may go up there. I think it is the sheer amount of times the film made me jump out of my skin that made me gripped but also made me lose a little bit of focus. I'm absolutely terrible with jump scares by the way. So I think on my 2nd or 3rd watch it may cross that line. But it is very close.