I loved this movie. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Some said it tended towards melodrama, some said the gross parts weren't necessary, but it all fit for me. I'd maintained to this point that, while I'd enjoyed all of his films, Aronofsky hadn't accomplished anything like Pi since then. Black Swan may be more expensive and well-produced, but it is as thrilling a story of a descent into madness as Pi is. It has become my second favorite Aronofsky. Previously, I think Wrestler was tied with Requiem, but I thought Black Swan topped both of them. Fountain was beautiful but somewhat inaccessible for me. Portman's acting was exquisite, but she was supported especially well by the likes of Ryder (what fun to see her in this role!), Kunis, and Cassell.
I've gone back and read what the rest of you wrote and aside from John (did you ever end up seeing it?) it seems like it was received more or less positively. My film history knowledge is not as extensive as some others' in the club, but the film felt fresh to me. And a lot of that had to do with Portman's portrayal. I think the subject matter was very engaging to me to--I saw it as being a film about mental illness, and it was very thought-provoking on that front. In the special features several interviews commented on Aronofsky's desire to show his films from the perspectives of his characters, and I thought he did that exceptionally well here. I didn't know from one moment to the next what had actually happened and what was only her illusion. It is a tribute to Aronofsky that I thought the film had a happy ending of sorts; I was so sure she wasn't going to make it through the entire performance. And if she ends up dying, at least she dies feeling like she had accomplished what she set out to do.
Imagine how horrifying it would be to never be sure whether or not what you were seeing was real? To always be second-guessing yourself and those around you--to be paranoid and untrusting? I felt what Nina was feeling and I was also able to reach out to her and root for her and feel empathy and sadness for her. I love it when a character and a story sucks me in and makes me feel like I'm a part of it. Black Swan did that for me. I also agree with Brandon that it's horror film elements should not be overlooked as such. The moments of gross-out horror are, to a degree, what closes the sale for me--what turns Black Swan from a good drama to a film that defies genre. Aronofsky said something about making a "were-swan" movie in one of the special features and I thought it was great because I hadn't thought of it that way. One of the best scenes is the one where she grows wings. I don't know if I can talk about it effectively because it impacted me on such an emotional level. Great camera work and SFX, too.