Black Swan

Movie review by S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Black Swan Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 17+

Magnificent, macabre thriller too intense for young teens.

R 2010 110 minutes

Parents say

age 16+

Based on 48 reviews

Kids say

age 15+

Based on 83 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Art

there are reviews from children saying it's fine and not that bad. i must disagree. it should be okay for mature audiences, however, and i understand all people don't mature at the same age. this movie covers heavy topics such as emotional/mental abuse, depression, self harm, and others. it is violent and somewhat disturbing. there is also depictions of drug use and a few scenes where other characters touch the main character's body in a sexual manner. there is one sex scene. it is a beautiful and amazing movie and it is truly a work of art. tells a story of a girl desperate for a very important part that she'll do anything to get it. however, it is most definitely not a movie to watch in front of children.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
age 15+

Not Scary, Just Psychological

I am 24 years old and get easily affected by disturbing content. I don't do well with anything scary. Since this wasn't traditional horror and I had heard how amazing it is, I decided to try it out. I planned to turn it off if it started to bother me at any point. I also used to be a pointe dancer, so I was excited to see a movie about ballet. Many reviews had deterred me from watching for years, as it was stated this film is "scarier than any horror movie," but I really couldn't find this further from the truth. This is an intense drama. First, the movie was incredible. I watched it twice in 48 hours. No film has ever captured perfectionism in such a raw but beautiful masterpiece. The most disturbing thing about the movie to me is the ballet teacher taking advantage of his student in a couple of brief, clothed handsy scenes. That kind of stuff makes my stomach turn, but it wasn't graphic and went by quickly on screen. Many reviews stated that there is graphic expression of mental illness (self harm / purging), but this content is more alluded to than seen blatantly on camera. I was worried about that, because I find that to be too hard to watch, but it was subtle and implied. I will say this. The film is about a young woman with extreme perfectionism. It drives her to the breaking point, and she starts to mix reality with hallucination. She develops paranoia and starts to think this other girl is out to get her, but really she is just out to get herself and doesn't understand it's coming from within. Probably the most disturbing thing about the film that didn't bother me but seems to bother others is how you watch this seemingly healthy young adult drive herself insane. Most perfectionists probably can relate to some degree, but those who have never seen that stream of consciousness up close may find that dark side of human nature to be creepy. There is an oral sex scene between two women, but no nudity due to the camera angle. Also brief, nudity-free masturbation. Nothing that would shock anyone in their mid teens. Spoiler alert: The movie ends with the lead character stabbing herself after she performs the ballet role perfectly. It represents her killing the old version of herself (her White Swan side), but in doing so, she is also killing her actual self. This is due to the perfectionism for the ballet role she is playing (which quite literally, is Swan Lake where she plays the White Swan and Black Swan, having to perform two different versions of herself). The other thing that was off putting about the film is the mother/daughter relationship. The 28 year old lead character lives with her very controlling mother in a bedroom fit for a 10 year old. There are no boundaries and the lead character is treated like she is a little girl, which is weird to watch. This all leads up to the main character hitting her breaking point and letting loose, declaring her adulthood. This does entail her taking ecstasy at a club and getting drunk for the first time. Again, nothing that will shock your teen, but it would be too much for a child to understand. If you are trying to decide if you should let your child watch this, I would say 15 and up seems appropriate. If they are 15-18, have an open dialogue with them about what they see. It's important to talk about mental illness at that age, and the lead character does come of age throughout the course of the film. You can use it to discuss perfectionism and the dangers of it with your teen. It's important to be their sounding board. My immediate thought when watching was "Wow, this would have been great for 15 year old me to watch and learn from." If I watched this as a teen, I would have felt more understood and open to discussing my perfectionistic pressures. The movie is EXCELLENT and I highly recommend it. About to go watch it a third time (yes, it's THAT good).

This title has:

Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Movie Details

Our Editors Recommend

  • The Red Shoes Poster Image

    The Red Shoes

    Bittersweet but enthralling ballet drama.

    age 10+
  • Ballet Shoes Poster Image

    Ballet Shoes

    Sisters learn value of love, work, and sacrifice.

    age 8+
  • Center Stage Poster Image

    Center Stage

    Melodramatic, a bit racy -- some teens will love.

    age 14+

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate