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These Scathing Reactions Prove Not Everybody Loved Black Swan

In 2010, the psychological drama "Black Swan," directed by Darren Aronofsky, hit theaters. During its run, the prestige film received a largely positive reception from critics (via Rotten Tomatoes). The movie follows a dedicated professional ballerina, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), as she determinedly trains for the starring role in "Swan Lake," combatting a growing maelstrom of exhaustion, grief, and trauma to succeed in her efforts. Upon its premiere, many viewers applauded Portman for her performance, which "[laid] bare the myriad insecurities genuinely dedicated performers face when testing their limits, revealing shades of the actress never before seen on film" (via Variety).

Notably, Portman spent more than a year training for the film, adhering to a strict and grueling regimen that resulted in significant weight loss (via NPR). The notoriously burdensome routine, which received widespread reporting prior to the movie's release, caused her to lose her toenails and dislocate a rib. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Portman ruminated on the physical toll of rehearsal, citing its extreme nature helped her tap into the emotional arc of her character. As she explained, "You don't drink, you don't go out with your friends, you don't have much food and you are constantly putting your body through extreme pain, so you get that understanding of the self-flagellation of a ballet dancer."

Ultimately, "Black Swan" received numerous accolades, including a Best Actress win for Portman (via IMDb). However, despite its storied run, not all viewers loved "Black Swan." Continue reading below to find out why.

Many viewers found the film predictable and pretentious

In a Reddit thread, u/sanguinalis shared a sense of disappointment after watching "Black Swan," finding the film "awful." The user explained, "I know everyone just went nuts for this movie, but aside from fantastic cinematography I thought it was predictable and pretentious." Citing the storyline as an "obvious" narrative that pointed clearly to Nina's psychological unraveling, the user also considered the "Swan Lake" thread unoriginal, resulting in a "false veneer used to make it appear that the film is deep and existential, when really it's an old idea that has been done before and done much better."

Redditor u/JBNY agreed with the criticism, noting, "The symbolism never made any sense, or it was so in your face that it ruined the idea of what symbolism is supposed to be." The user also argued that the film suffered because of Portman's performance, writing, "The main character seems to never really say anything, just makes a lot of facial expressions." Emphasizing the same point, u/crass0405 said, "Natalie Portmans facial expression range went from 'I'm about to cry,' to, 'I'm about to make the I'm about to cry face.'"

Moreover, these same viewers were far from alone in their assessment. During the movie's release, David Edelstein, a critic for NPR, called "Black Swan" a "largely empty sensation."  The same reviewer lamented the film's lack of respect for the ballet profession, writing, "I've never seen a dance movie with so little appreciation for the art of dance."

In the end, it is clear that not everyone wanted an encore of "Black Swan," even with its extensive acclaim.