Ballet thriller is unflinching, unnerving, and definitely NOT for young teens
(Spoilers may be ahead.) You can only be perfect in death. That's exactly what this ersatz thriller by Darren Aronofsky embodies. Aronofsky is one of the best filmmakers of our time; he's done several other films, like ? (Pi), Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler that chronicle their realistic characters' falls from grace through obsessions with mathematical patterns, drug addiction and wrestling (respectively). But Black Swan, arguably his best film since Requiem, tackles the subject of the pursuit of perfection in the world of ballet. Natalie Portman is finally in a role that she could easily win Best Actress for. This role is as Nina, a dancer in her mid-20's whose life is pretty much consumed by dancing. She doesn't put any joy into it, according to her choreographer Thomas (played by Vincent Cassel in one of the most underrated performances this year). But she still convinces him to give her the role of the Swan Princess, since she's the perfect embodiment of the White Swan: fragile, joyless, and innocent. But her Black Swan doppelganger, Lily (Mila Kunis in an extremely Oscar-deserving performance) comes into the picture - and Nina believes she must do everything she can to not let Lily steal part. This is all in her head, though - as are several parts of Black Swan. Although this is an excellent and intense film about ballet, its mix of sex and horrifically disturbing images make Black Swan a very, very poor choice for anyone under at least 16 (or 14, if VERY MATURE). There are two clearly implied scenes where Nina masturbates. In one, she's clothed and in a bed, and the other takes place in a bathtub. We see a bit of thrusting in the former, while the latter shows a bit of nudity (though the worst we see is her stomach). This scene ends when she sees some blood dripping into the water. Nina also is seen with only her panties on at least twice; her hands cover her breasts. Also, there's that hyped (imaginary) tryst between Nina and Lily that involves oral sex. There's no nudity, but it's extremely clear what's being done. Also, Thomas touches Nina's (clothed) crotch and forces her to kiss him a couple of times. Dancers are seen in skintight leotards (but since this is a film about ballet, that's to be expected). But it's not the sex that has the potential to disturb (unless you're conservative); it's the violence and bloody images that permeate Black Swan. Right off the bat, Nina's feet are covered in raw skin and slightly bloody blisters, and she cracks a toenail. Later, she imagines ripping a large piece of hanging skin off her finger, with bloody results. She also imagines growing feathers out of a scratch on her back, and even pulls one out. Nina also has a run-in with a ballet dancer who just had a car accident, and her injury is shown in close-up. (POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD) In a second visit, this dancer stabs herself in the face repeatedly with a nail file. But in the climax of the film, it appears that Nina stabs Lily in the stomach under pressure. It is revealed that Nina actually stabbed herself, and she dies at the end. (END SPOILERS.) There's also some R-rated profanity; about 14 f-bombs are dropped, the anatomical terms "c*ck" and "p*ssy" are both used, and there's some more mild profanity. Finally, Lily and Nina smoke in the dance studio (even though it isn't allowed), and they both get drunk and take hallucinogen pills in a bar, which ends up fueling Nina's insanity. Overall...well...not much left to say about how great this one is. But this is definitely not a movie for young ballet lovers; it's a film showing a great's descent into insanity.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking