A twenty-something prima ballerina, Nina wakes up every morning in a pink room filled with stuffed animals, practices at a prestigious ballet company during the day, and comes home to her mom, who gets Nina in her pajamas, tucks her into bed, and places on her nightstand a tune-churning jewelry box complete with a spinning ballerina. There's too much going on to simply label her a stage mother, but there's no doubt she's passed perfectionism down to her daughter, of whom she has painted portraits hanging in her room, not totally unlike Crazy Joe Davola's Elaine wall. (Alright, they're different things, but Seinfeld is my default after thrillers.)
Swan Lake of the Swan Queen, a girl who becomes a white swan by a sorcerer's curse and then a black one by a demon's seduction. The prince chooses another girl and the ballet ends with the swan killing herself. Her director, Thomas, is a manipulative genius asshole whom Nina believes to be brilliant, and his less than stellar pep talks -- which include phrases like, "Would you f--- her? No one would," -- are sure to inspire catchy phrases in the makers of those little star-shaped stickers that elementary teachers use to grade homework.
Along with motivational speaking, his technique involves sexual manipulation, and he bases Nina's self-exploration on that. She has the pure and innocent white swan down, but her black one is too obedient. To achieve perfection within the role, she must bring out what she considers one of many imperfections of her own -- passion. Thomas tells her to lose herself.
Left is the ballet's white swan, the more vulnerable one on the right is from a dream sequence where she imagines herself as the part before she gets it.
Photo by Autumn de Wilde, with sister Laura on the left. And sister Kate's (I like referring to them that way because then they sound like nuns who love Japanese horror movies) sketches:
Enlarge to enjoy in all their glory.