Many subscribers are likely aware that Netflix has a library filled with great original shows and movies that are worth exploring. If you remember Netflix’s origins, though, you’re likely aware that Netflix got its start because it had a library of great content that predated its existence.
While those options are no longer as robust as they once were, there are still plenty of great movies in Netflix’s catalog that didn’t originate on the service. Among those is Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, a fascinating, tantalizing film set in the world of high-class ballet. These are three reasons you should be sure to check it out while it’s on Netflix.
Natalie Portman lost a ton of weight to play Nina, an insecure ballet dancer who gets cast in the central role in Swan Lake. Portman’s performance is the perfect balance of ferocity and timidity, as we understand the rage and hurt bubbling just below the surface of Nina’s mousy exterior.
Portman won an Oscar for the role, and justifiably so, given all of the dancing she had to do on top of her careful character work. As Nina slowly unravels due to both the pressure of the role and the abuse she’s being dealt by her conductor and her mother, Portman’s performance gets more and more unhinged, which is part of what cements it as one of her best ever.
Like any Aronofsky movie worth its salt, Black Swan doesn’t follow an obvious linear progression. Although it’s ostensibly the story of an insecure dancer who finds herself thrust into the limelight. As Nina begins to lose her grasp on reality, we come to understand her emotional state, even as it becomes more and more difficult to determine what actually happened and what didn’t.
While this may sound confusing, Black Swan disorients you in all the right ways, helping you to understand just how fragile Nina’s grasp on her own sanity was even before the movie began, and how completely she’s lost it by the time of the grand finale.
In a movie where nothing matters more than performance, Black Swan‘s ending feels like the perfect finale. The film climaxes with Nina’s performance in Swan Lake, but only after she’s already lost whatever tenuous grip she may have had on reality. It’s a shocking, bracing finale that is among the best sequences that Aronofsky has ever directed.
Like much of the director’s best work, the sequence is both riveting and completely unsubtle, but it’s that lack of subtlety that ultimately gives it its power. Black Swan is fascinating, but it’s also a little bit bananas, and its ending is the perfect period at the end of its sentence.
Black Swan is now streaming on Netflix.
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