Black Swan—20th Century Fox

Video: 4/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3.5/5

Nina is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre for the opening production of their new season, "Swan Lake", Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily, who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

Judging films like this on Blu-ray is difficult because scoring them isn’t really fair. The director intended a very specific look here and shot with cameras that would provide that exact look. The Blu-ray is completely faithful to that intention and delivers an image that is grainy, somewhat soft and washed out. Like The Wrestler before it, Black Swan has a low budget video film that almost gives it the look of a documentary. It works well with the subject matter, but those expecting a glossy HD presentation from this Blu-ray may be disappointed. For those like me that saw this in the theater and knew what to expect, it is a flawless presentation of the intended visual of the director. The sound design is nothing to be unsure about; it does a fantastic job with the mood and atmosphere of the film. The soundstage is wider than one would expect given the genre, and the subtle nuances really help with the atmosphere of the film. The score is brilliant and effective and the balance of the mix is superb.

Fox has given this release a 2-disc set with one disc for a digital copy of the film. The Blu-ray contains a behind the scenes feature on the making of the film with the director, plus lots of insight into the creative process, the story and the cast. It is also BD-Live enabled for more online features.

Black Swan is a dark and powerful film that was one of my favorites from last year. Portman was superb, but so was the rest of the cast. This is a pretty twisted fantasy tale that stays with you afterward. Highly recommended.