Black Swan Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated December 4th, 2010 at 2:04 am,

Black Swan movie clip Black Swan Review

In terms of technique, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is arguably a masterpiece. The way Aronofsky manipulates sight, sound and editing to create this story of ambition and madness, shows that he is truly one those increasingly-rare directors who is worthy of the title “filmmaker,” as oppossed to “glorified video game and/or music video maker.”

So why am I not yet ready to tout Black Swan as “the film of the year?” Because for all its technical marvel – and wonderful performances – the movie falls short of its primary goal: conveying a moving and/or interesting story.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) has been a dedicated little ballerina all her life, but even though she belongs to a prestigious New York ballet company, she’s never really had her opportunity to shine in the limelight, center stage. That all changes when the director of the company, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), decides that his former star and “little princess,” Beth (Winona Ryder), no longer has the necessary magic to light up the stage. Thomas has a new and edgy interpretation of “Swan Lake” planned and he needs a Swan Queen who can embody both the light and dark aspects of the soul. He knows Nina has what it takes to embody the light side, but the quiet, timid, girl lacks that dark edge of a true Black Swan.

Enter Lily (Mila Kunis), a dancer who is wild and passionate where Nina is disciplined and almost robotically precise. Lily quickly catches Thomas’ attention and as she and Nina get closer, Nina begins fear that her position as queen is in danger of being usurped.

While this might sound like the plot of a good thriller, in truth, Black Swan only borrows select parts from that genre, while it also attempts to stitch a patchwork together from a strange mix of other genres, including Film Noir and late 70s/early 80s horror films. The Noir influences can be seen in the distorted framing of characters’ faces and New York City terrain, giving an atmosphere of ominousness at all times (an echo of Nina’s attitude about the world).  The horror/thriller movie influences are found in many scenes in which Nina is alone and her fragile mind begins to buckle under the pressure. All the classic tropes are there – freakish “reflection” shots, see-it-now-you-don’t jump scares, sound bridging that blends the noise of one scene into another – classic tricks designed to keep you, the viewer, as edgy and frightened as Nina. The message here is clear: professional artistry and/or athleticism can be more draining and hellish than a weekend at Camp Crystal Lake.

Natalie Portman Black Swan image Black Swan Review

Of course, the film is also comprised of the signatures that have come to define Aronofsky. The influence of the director’s more artsy and stylish early work (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) can be seen in the close-up shots and sequences of feet at work, nails being cut, dancers’ shoulders and arms in motion and other areas of physicality and routine that Aronofsky manages to make feel precarious and edgy. The influence of The Wrestler, on the other hand, can be seen at points where the director presses the camera almost uncomfortably close on Nina, hovering just on or over her shoulder wherever she goes to the point (which I suspect is THE point) that a clear visual metaphor is established: to this character there is no outside world, only the world as it exists in her mind.

This would be an intriguing approach if Nina was a more intriguing character. However, sadly, for me, this was not the case. I will say that Portman delivers an impassioned performance in this film, in the sense that she wholeheartedly attacks the role in much the same way that her character is asked to attack a set of pirouettes at one point. Yet Nina is not what I would call a complex or interesting character – in fact, I dare say she is one-note: crazy. From the moment the film opens, it’s clear that this person we are supposed to identify with and follow has an obvious screw loose – her mom has a screw loose, their home life is screwy (think Carrie) and Nina always seems to have her emotions screwed with by the one thing she is supposed to love: dancing.

Taken altogether, I found it hard to buy that this character – who never once in the film seems to enjoy what she’s doing – would actually go to the lengths she does and sacrifice what she does to reach her goal. And, despite the overarching theme of negative transformation (which is quite literally prophesied at one point early in the film), the only transformation I saw in Nina was that of a girl who goes from being crazy to being crazier. This is not exactly a new trait of Aronofsky’s work, but at least with some of his earlier entries there’s a sense that at one point the characters were not the mess we see them as – that even if they don’t go anywhere, they at least came from somewhere better to arrive where they are. Nina offers no sense of real transition – just the heavy-handed and obvious “transformation” into the embodiment of the titular creature, which again, is no surprise given how unbalanced the character is from the start.

Natalie Portman Black Swan TV spot Black Swan Review

I would place most of the blame for Nina’s lack of depth (and the movie’s) on screenwriters Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin – although for me, Portman’s performance still carried too many shades of her Star Wars goody-two-shoes naive princess, combined with her “bad girl” performance from that SNL rap video spoof. Her portrayal of Nina, while good enough, is far from Oscar-worthy in my opinion – especially when her co-star Vincent Cassel slinks in and steals almost every scene right out from under her, playing a snobbish artist type who is equally as brilliant and passionate as he is manipulative, sleazy and even (arguably) abusive. Same goes for Barbara Hershey as Nina’s mother, a woman who is bright and loving or dark and oppressive, depending on the minute. If anything, I would say Black Swan features some Award-worthy supporting performances – though let’s not add Mila Kunis to that list; she basically plays the same free-spirited femme fatale we saw in Extract last year.

In the end, Black Swan is exactly like Nina herself: a beautiful mess of technical perfection that would reach greatness if only it was more interesting. It’s a rare case where I feel I can shower praise on a director for his skill, actors for their performances, and still walk away unimpressed by the movie as a whole. Kind of like the chances of seeing an actual Black Swan: rare, but not impossible.

Black Swan trailer:

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I feel like this movie would give me some seriously freaky dreams…

  2. I didn’t buy most of the hype, but I must say the review is better than I expected for the film. To me it just didn’t look good at all.

  3. “I found it hard to buy that this character — who never once in the film seems to enjoy what she’s doing — would actually go to the lengths she does and sacrifice what she does to reach her goal.”

    I haven’t seen the film Kofi but have you ever had a parent who puts such high expectations and pressure on you as a child that you would go to almost any physical/emotional lengths to try and please them..Classic case of a parent trying to realize their dream through a child while at the same time sacrificing your child to get there. It is dark and disturbing to see parents who do this and the ugly people they turn their children into..

    I think I will pass on this film as I find Aranofsky’s films too disturbing..they get inside your head in a way most other film makers can’t..

  4. Screen Rant’s review system is bordering on pathetic. Generic, boring, action films like Red get 5 stars and manipulative sentimental crap like Hereafter get 4.5! Now when a genuine piece of art comes along and it gets 3.5! I know there are various different reviewers on here, but it’s beginning to look like the site is over-rating films it feels havn’t gotten good enough general acclaim and under-rating ones that are doing too well. Like Black Swan and The Social Network.

    • Mikey,

      What can I say? That’s the risk of letting different people review movies on the same site – different tastes and opinions. I’m sure Kofi wouldn’t have given RED anywhere near the score I did.


    • @Mikey

      Movies are equal parts form and function and must be judged as such. Form, referring to the technical aspects of the film construct, mixed with the function of movies as storytelling devices. You have to judge both form and function. Some films function as great or entertaining experiences function-wise, but don’t have the most sophisticated forms; Black Swan, to me, has a gorgeous form, but is lacking in terms of functioning as a great or entertaining story.

      Think of it like this: Boxers get judged by class. There are featherweight champions, middleweight champions, and heavyweight champions. You don’t judge the overall selection of boxers as one big group: you makes distinctions according to class. Movies are the same way: you judge a featherweight film as a featherweight contender and a heavyweight as a heavyweight contender.

    • Mikey did you do any research before you typed this up?

      Social Network (Which was very overrated IMO) had a fantastic review on SR. You can easily find it Screen Rant gave it a pretty glowing review with just a few minor negatives.

      I’m guessing you didn’t even watch Red. Maybe it’s good maybe it’s not we can sit here and debate that all day, but it was not at all generic or boring. It was unique and set it’s self apart from most action flicks. I enjoyed the film, but I think Vic rated it a little higher than it deserves. Just like Vic said had Kofi or Paul done it the film would of probably gotten lower.

      You say that SR gives good reviews to films that are not doing very well and site Red as an example? Red was very very well reviewed in general and was very financially successful. Just take a little look at where it’s averaging 70% which is pretty damn good in the grand scheme of things.

      Did you love Black Swan? Fantastic for you. Your more than welcome to come on here and tell Kofi he got it all wrong and you disagree, but have some self respect and respect for other as well and do it like a decent human being instead of acting like… Well I’ll skip auto mod I’m sure you can insert name here.

      If you don’t like any of the reviews and want to bash the site for it’s reviews try not reading them at all. Now you know you never agree with SR so why not hit up RT look up a few critics that you do agree with and stick to them.

      I may self am pretty hit and miss with SR reviews sometimes I agree sometimes I don’t. It’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean the site is awful. It means the site has multiple reviewers and you can’t always get the guy that you like so sometimes you have to read someone elses sadly. Such is life.

      • We all have different taste in film,that is why the reviews vary. For example i wouldve given Harry Potter 4.5,but it got a 3.5 here on screenrant and i accept that,i dont go crying about it,i just like knowing how other people feel about movies. Just go with the flow Mikey,they explain here on screenrant why they gave that score to that movie,and thats pretty awsome! And most the time i agree and sometimes i dont but its their serious opinion. ;)

  5. I have never gotten a good vibe from this film and I probably wont see it.

  6. I’ll probably see it, if only because i see most horror that comes out. Frankly before this review i hadn’t even known it was a horror-ish offering so i was ignoring it.

  7. every review i get on, there is always two people debating about something. it gets REALLY annoying. for example. the review here, i haven’t seen the movie (I probaly never will) but it is ONE person’s review not everyone who saw it. just take a chill pill.
    Good god

  8. The thing about film reviews is that you should take it with a grain of salt. Most of the time reviewers spend all of their time trying to find reasons to hate a film, that they don’t do what you should do at the movies. Watching and enjoying the film.

    The thing about film reviewers is that they are critical about everything. And 9 times out of 10, they like movies that suck and hate the movies that are actually worth watching.

    Like “The Departed,” that movie won awards and everything. But that film sucked. So if Screen Rant doesn’t like “Black Swan,” it must be a great film

    • Yes, Gary, you’re right. Secretly we here at Screen Rant are movie HATERS. That’s why we take the time to write 20 articles a day about them. That’s why I drive an hour each way to see a two hour movie and then take two hours to write a review – because I just want to make sure no one sees it.

      Of COURSE Transformers 2 was a masterpiece, but man, we can’t let on that we thought that – it was excruciating to force myself to write a review of that, trying desperately to find flaws in a flawless wonderful film for my review. And as to our review of the Social Network – piece of crap film that we just wanted to boost up and make look good because the studio agreed to pay us $1,000,000 if we made it look good.

      Finally, I’ll refrain from breaking my own rule about namecalling here, although I certainly would like to.


      • Service with a smile, Vic… kill ‘em with kindness and then leave the rest in pieces. Seriously, the delivery of this critique offers us very little depth in delivery or character as a matter of serious analysis as applied observation.

        You may be right but you also may be looking through a high powered magnifier at the mack truck of a truly psychological thriller with multiple interpretations… Clearly it is a must-see-for-oneself set of conditions since we learned nothing about how the devil is always in the details if one actually looks. Easy out…

        • TRE,

          Well I didn’t see nor review this film, Kofi did. So you’ll have to take it up with him. :)


          • Honestly that is one of the more modern elements in film for me these days when the director is capable of maintaining plausible duality that appeals to multiple interpretations… I honestly havent see this film nor am I thinking that it is a must see for me but somehow the capture of the subtle nuance on film that we see ‘twisted’ psychology manifest is laudible…

            I like reading all kinds of reviews really but when all is said and done taking issue with them always boils down to a battle of vocabulary combined with willingness to ‘thread the vision’… I like whats going on here at Screenrant because you can choose to comment without always ‘taking issue’ or even ‘drawing a conclusion’… Maybe there are folks who have come for other reasons?

            Personally I just like film as a complicated process and characterization as an adventure in the world of homogenous expression if we can just speak plainly at this point with regards to why a person might enjoy this totally fine site!

            • Honestly… im going to have to say that this film packed a bigger punch for me than Inception did… both were well done and layered properly to offer dimension to the psychology and yet the ‘plausible duality’ that i mentioned earlier was too much in the realm of [i]deus ex machina[/i] for me as a part of leaving Inception a flattened or over-manipulated storyline

              One could easily argue that Black Swan will now be a classic…

      • Vic,
        Seems I’m not the only one who is getting a bit tired of all the negative and inflammatory comments people are writing.
        It’s becoming more and more prevalent my friend.

        As for Black Swan, it really does look amazing. And Requiem is one of my fave all time movies so any Aronofsky movie will get a run with me. The review was balanced as usual. Highlighted the positive and the negative, top job Kofi

        • Leithal,

          I try to keep on top of things here, but I don’t delete comments just because they’re negative – only if they’re insulting or patently flame bait.

          Best regards,


    • The Departed sucked? I can understand someone saying that it wasn’t their cup of tea… but saying that it sucked? Thats too far.

  9. I’m keen to see this but won’t be seeing it at the cinema, not paying £12, when I can just wait a few months for the DVD. Which will probably cost less.

    • Same here, it looks good but I can wait.

    • Me too, but that’s only b/c it’s not playing at my theater or anyone near to me.

    • right… most excellent point to make about the purpose that screenrant can serve when it comes to the reality of identifying how reviewing helps.

    • Ha-Ha, I’m paying $5. Isn’t that like 3 pounds or something?

      • Yeah its about £3.

  10. This is the only review that I’ve read that had bad points to it. I saw this movie and I’m respectfully disagreeing with you about natalie portman. She was fantastic in this role and deserves at least a nomination

  11. Natalie Portman & Mila Kunis lesbian scene. That’s all the inspiration I need to actually see this, on DVD, with pause and rewind functions.

    • i second that =)

    • Drsam

      I thought this movie looked weird, dull and all around bad.

      Now thanks to you I have to see it. I did not know that was in this lol

      I’m obsessed with Mila I swear her and Jessica Alba I’m in love with them both lol. Mila especially mostly because she reminds me of the one who got away that I was in love with when I was younger.

      Now I’ll have to rent this movie and not tell my GF

      • Yeah I’ve got a bit of a thing for Mila Kunis too, ever since I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, she stunning.

        Not that keen on Jessica Alba though, she’s pretty but meh, it’s all personal taste aint it?

  12. … “glorified video game and/or music video maker.” When GR gets a podcast going you’re going to have to come on and defend that statement, Kofi. Them’s fightin’ words.

  13. Still wanna see it. Got to wait till the tenth till it’s released in my hood.

  14. This doesn’t really appeal to me that much.

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinion though, I do have to say giving Red a ’5′ was a bit excessive. I think that any movie that hets a five star rating will always come in for a bit of scrutiny. To me 5 stars incidate near perfection – evrything is great from story, writing, acting, directing. If there are any flaws, then they are minor and don’t spoil the film’s overall greatness.

    Not that I’m a film critic at all, but as many excellent films that I’ve watched the most recent 5 star films in my opinion are The Return Of The King, House Of Flying Daggers and Munich. Inception did come close – bit too long and overelaborate cost the extra star on that one.

    And The Departed didn’t suck at all. That movie was pure class. 4 out of 5 on that one.

    • lebsta,

      Well I reviewed “RED,” not Kofi. I’m sure he wouldn’t have rated it 5/5. But for me, it was entertaining as hell – I’ve seen it 4 times now and don’t feel any different. Everyone I know personally that went based on my recommendation has agreed, and in our poll half of those who voted gave it the same. :)

      I tend to be a bit more forgiving in my reviews sometimes, based on the genre or what the movie’s goal is.


    • How can you say inception was a bit to long and overelaborate when you’ve just mentioned 3 over long over hyped pieces of tosh ever released. departed was good but infernal affairs was a lot better even though its basically the same film maybe its just that I watched it before the remake was released. I haven’t seen red but I will as the review on here sold it to me. Don’t gete wrong I appreciate your opinion I just have a different one.

  15. And to add that If I had to choose between Portman and Kunis, then Portman gets my vote. Jesscia Alba is more attractive than both of them though.

  16. @Vic


  17. @Vic

    I enjoyed the beginning of Red, it had a light comic tone to it, a kind of Oceans 11 feel towards it. The problem that it tried to also be serious hard edged thriller at times and the balance didn’t quite match. Kick Ass had the same problem though that was a far worse film in comparison. I agreed with a few comments you made on it I just felt 5 was too high, but you are entitled to your opinion.

    @Big D

    You also have the right to your say, but The Return Of The King, House Of Flying Daggers & Munich – all tosh?? really?? One might say the battle scenes in ROTK were elaborate, but that was in keeping with the truly epic scale of the film.

    Flying Daggers has some of the most beautiful and most intricate action sequences – especially the final showdown which was even more awe inspiring than anything seen in Inception – though I admit I am comparing two different styles of film. Daggers was also miles superior than Hero, but that’s another debate.

    Munich was simply magnificent and powerful in it’s message and it’s probably Spileberg’s best film of the Noughties – Minority Report a close second. Why it didn’t win the Best Film Oscar that year I just don’t know.

    All three films are at the very least on a par with Inception that got a bit self indulgent at times with all the 2nd, 3rd levels, subconsciousness etc, It was still mightily impressive and I’d have no qualms if it won Best Film Oscar next year.

    Just my opinion…

    • I genuinely didn’t like house of flying daggers the visuals are outstanding but I just found it really boring as a whole I usually like that kinda film ie crouching tiger this one just didn’t tickle my fancy.

      I wasn’t a fan of any of the lotr films I had high expectations though so maybe I was expecting to much the second one was the best of the 3 imo the battles looked good I just didn’t connect with the characters for some reason.

      as for Munich its a great story I found it entertaining but the hype ruined it for me I think out of the 3 mentioned its the best film but to say they compare to inception is just wrong I will say though that I am highly biased towards nolan as I’m a massive fan of all his work so might be slightly over reacting lol

      • I’m a huge LOTR fan and I absolutely despise Return Of The King!

        • Really i loved Return of the King. I mean two towers was my fave, but I still loved Return of the king it was a great film. It may not of been the best when it came to following the book, but as a film alone it was great.

  18. Kofi, I think your review is superb. You nailed it down exactly for me.

    But so far no review has touched on what I think is a deal breaking flaw for me, namely, pluasability!

    Are we to believe that someone who is seeing pictures talk (and countless other psychotic visions) is able to somehow become the lead ballet girl at lincoln center? are you kidding me? now that is a new one on me!

    And if the pictures just started talking and Nina was perfectly normal before that, then she sure doesn’t show much surprise about it.

    As for everything else, tricks tricks tricks. We don’t know if her mother is even alive. We don’t know what is real and what isn’t. We don’t even know if she isn’t haunted. Indeed at one point Nina’s mirror reflection turns while she isn’t moving, but only we are seeing the reflection move, not Nina! (this one is on the trailer preview). What is that supposed to mean?

    I’d gladly spend the time to “figure” all this out, except for the fact that I think it would be a waste of time because I don’t think the director himself has it figured out. I think this is a movie designed for effect and lacking a real story.

    Like you said, all the right ingredients in spades, but no meal. Its hard to make a meal is the problem and it seems to me that aranovsky thought we wouldn’t mind that there isn’t one here, and by the looks of the reviews, he seems right.

    • I’m sure Aranovsky knows exactly what he’s doing.
      I don’t agree with Kofi’s review as I am still blown away by Portman’s performance.
      No mention here of similar theme’s in Polanski’s “Repulsion”.
      “Black Swan” is technically brilliant and the story is quite superb. I just love it!!

  19. Still super excited to see this film, why does it have to be in limited release, WHY?

    Aside from this and The King’s Speech I can’t think of another film to get excited with this month.

  20. This movie should be pretty good, I like Portman and Kunis(Seth McFarlane is gonna have fun with this movie on Family Guy). Doubt I’ll see it in theaters though.

  21. This really looks interesting but I think I’ll wait for it to come out on iTunes. Thanks for the review.

  22. Black Swan will undoubtedly get reviewers musing about the deliciously creepy place within all of us where kink and madness reside. But I think the movie touches on something even more dangerous than our pervy dark sides.

    Check out my blog post “We Are All Black Swans” and tell me what you think:

  23. Very well presented. I’ve had the same mixed emotions about the film, but I’ve been on the ‘Natalie deserves an Oscar’ bandwagon all the same. And yet I didn’t care about her character as the movie marches on, and isn’t that a key responsibility of an actor in a film?

    Portman’s work here is Oscar worthy – she lost weight, throws herself into the performance, etc. But does she matter as a human here? Not really.

  24. What movie did you watch? First, all films can be seen as a “patchwork.” However, whether or not they feel like a patchwork depends on fluidity with which the different elements combine and also the perspective of the viewer. In “Black Swan,” all elements blended beautifully, and someone who says differently is probably someone who over-analyzed the film instead of allowing themself to be taken away. If you enter a movie with cynical attitude then you’ll probably get a poor experience.

    Secondly, I saw tremendous amount of depth and growth in Portman’s character. The entire film was just a huge arch of growth. She began as a repressed, introverted, and fearful. In order to become the Black Swan she had to become something she’s never been – she had to make a fundamental change to who she was. This sort of transformation is something that cannot come from the inside alone. Instead, she had to suffer through a tremendous amount of internal and external pressure that brought her to the brink of insanity. Finally, in a fit of rage she dug into her deepest soul, killed her former self, crossed into madness…and came out not crazy, but for the first time in her life – whole.

    Black Swan combined this compelling story with wonderful music, dance, acting, and cinematography.

    A beautiful movie. One of the best ever.

    • agreed.

    • I wholeheartedly agree.
      That was the film I watched. Portman’s transformation was stunning. Look at her eyes!! You can see the internal change…and I don’t mean the bloodshot effect.
      Also, after her initial Black Swan performance when she sauntered backstage, her movement, the fluidity and total self assurance was astounding.
      I loved this film, a work of brilliance and Portman gave an performance that I will cherish in awe for a long time.

    • I agree completely.

    • 100% agreed,a real masterpiece,I’d even say the best movie ever,but it’s not everyone’s type

  25. what? 3.5? i haven’t seen it yet, but i heard very good review on this movie….

  26. good review, I too just didn’t find the characterization interesting enough.. As you note, she is essentially a crazy person – great, and? Too much of the dialogue was simplistic and obvious – i.e. the scene when the two girls are on ecstasy, or when the director questions her about her sex life. I feel like this story and its static roles – the leering director, the ambitious understudy, the good girl dancer – have already been told, and I expect something more compelling from Aronofsky. I yearned for more three dimensional characters who revealed more inner turmoil and self-reflection.

    Finally, I found the end a bit cheapening. Are we really meant to feel a sense of resolution from one word – perfect?

    • As a ballerina since 5 years old, I have to say that we would probably be happy to die after our most perfect performance, after all, what else is there when you are a ballerina?

      While there are sloppy passionate ballerinas, the essense of ballet and a career as a ballerina, is perfection, to be the top dancer, to dance the perfect dance and work hard in exclusion of all else to reach that goal.

      The end made me cry finally… that was the source of her ‘craziness’ to reach perfection, and she did. (though I do agree with most reviewers that the character herself and maybe her portrayal of that character could have been more fully developed, but I did get what it was supposed to be)

      I loved this movie and I think it gave my spouse an insight into my life and why I am so driven in everything I do and maybe even a bit ‘crazy’, sometimes broken and certainly passionate. A good mix between the 3 main ballerina characters.

      PS I quit ballet when I felt I’d reached my personal ‘perfection’ level, but I never quit dancing.

  27. This film is macabre. Its principle character is crazy and tortured~by others but mostly by herself. She used destructive behaviour as a form of coping and finally became an inwardly destructive and visually macabre form of the titular character.

  28. Just another note, I thought the use of all the ‘sex’ to show her character becoming more passionate, was a cheap way out and could have been done so much more passionately. We have to cheapen ourselves to reach perfection? What?

    And while all the blood was a bit much for me, I felt the pain of the characters, especially the ballet dancer who threw herself in front of the vehicle and then wanted to die… What else is there?

    I’m just glad that the main character did NOT sleep with that slimy dance director. She was able to get the role and make it hers without sleeping with him. His character was great by the way. Exactly as you would expect in his role. He does deserve an award.

    • I totally agree with you on the gratuitous sex thing. I wish they had used some of that time to develop the characters more. Or they could have used dance to show the main character peeking out of her shell. I also would have really liked to see why Nina’s mother was so weird and crazy and why Nina was so repressed/shy.

  29. Thank you for that review. I definitely agree with your assessment. Everyone I knew kept raving about this film, so I was very excited about viewing it. However, I was very disappointed. I did not care about Natalie P’s character, and the movie seemed long to me. After a while, I found myself sighing, “Just hurry up and turn into the darn swan.”