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<< Entertainment >>

New Movie Review

"Black Swan"

Drama and Thriller. Rated R. 1 hours, 43 minutes.

Photo by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel in Fox Searchlight's Black Swan - 2010

by Michael Stark
mjstark333@msn.com

|

Natalie Portman goes after the lead role in a New York ballet company’s production of “Swan Lake” in director Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller, “Black Swan.”

Wait, it is about ballet and is also psychological thriller? Sure enough, that is an apt description of one of the year’s best movies. Natalie Portman shines as Nina Sayers, a role that could very well define her career (I fully expect her to win Best Lead Actress at the Academy Awards this month). The supporting cast is also impressive, featuring excellent supporting performances from Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey. However, this movie belongs to Portman, as she is in virtually every scene, detailing her descent into obsession and mental illness.

Nina has danced for years, striving for technical perfection. Her mother, played by Hershey, used to dance and wants nothing more than to see her daughter become a star. Nina catches the eye of the ballet director, played by Cassel, who casts her as the lead in the company’s season opening “Swan Lake.” Nina is thrilled at first, but quickly begins to realize the pressure that comes with carrying such a well known production. The pressure causes her to hallucinate and compulsively scratch herself.

Her condition is worsened when Lily (Mila Kunis) enters her life. Lily attempts to start a friendship with the show’s star, but Nina is convinced she is out to sabotage her after Lily is named her understudy.

Thank to the hallucinations and Aronofsky’s dark tone, it is usually up to the individual viewer to decide what is real, and what is conjured up in the main character’s mind. The ballet scenes are also wonderfully choreographed, and really show just how difficult ballet is, and the strain the dancers put on their feet. Of course, with this being a Darren Aronofsky film, the viewer has to feel uncomfortable at times. So this film is definitely not for everyone. If you can handle the handful of squeamish scenes, you’ll find yourself mesmerized by Portman, the rest of the cast, and the film’s dark look.

OVERALL RATING: B+

 

Movie poster credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Black Swan movie poster

 

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