Black Swan

Natalie Portman and director Darren Aronofsky both deliver their best film to date with the psychological thriller Black Swan.

Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
108 minutes

Its rare these days, but every now and then a film comes along that keeps you completely engrossed all the way through, guessing at every turn. And when it’s all over you need a moment before you get up out of your seat. All you can think about in that moment is `Wow. That was a great fucking movie.’ On Tuesday night at the Scotia Bank Theatre I experienced this rare and awesome emotion with the new Natalie Portman psychological thriller Black Swan.

Usually in her films Portman plays an outgoing, confident, happy-go lucky kind of woman. Because of this at first it’s a bit of a shock to see her here as Nina, a shy and repressed New York City Ballet dancer whose voice barely goes above that of a whisper.  Nina’s entire world is ballet and her creepily overbearing mother Erica (Barbara Hersey). The brilliance of Hershey’s performance is showing Erica’s simultaneous obsession with her daughter’s emotional well being and pushing her own failed ambition as a dancer on her. A mother like that could make anyone go a little crazy.

But the pressure for Nina begins when the director of the ballet company Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) fires aging prima ballerina Beth (Winona Ryder) and makes Nina the lead in his new version of Swan Lake. Loving every minute of the few scenes she was in made me wish there was allot more of Ryder in this movie. Come on Hollywood, haven’t other actors made comebacks after doing worse things than shoplifting?

As the company begins rehearsals for Swan Lake, Nina struggles with the duality required of her performance. She must be both the graceful and innocent white swan, but also the sensual and seductive black swan. Nina easily embodies the qualities of the white swan but a new dancer in the troupe, Lily (Mila Kunis) seems a much more natural fit for the black swan. A rivalry erupts between Nina and Lily, which then evolves into a twisted friendship.

I have to give Kunis mad props for the evolution of her career. She may have started out as a horribly annoying sitcom character, but she’s gone on to make smart comedies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and now an outstanding performance in a dramatic thriller. I’m a heterosexual woman but even I can’t deny that some of the scene between Portman and Kunis where hot hot hot. I would not be surprised if she gets an Oscar nod along with Portman in February.

Portman proves yet again in this film why she’s one of the best actresses of her generation. Along with the great script, as the film goes on it becomes hard to distinguish which scenes are real and which are the product of Nina’s growing disconnect from reality. I love the outgoing Portman film character, but I hope this film inspires Portman to take some more risks when it comes to choosing roles in the future. This film really proves she can tackle any type of project.

I can’t say I’ve been a huge Aronofsky fan but what I like so much about this film is that he takes elements from his other movies (crazy hallucinations, intense character studies) and here meshes them together into one fantastic film. As my friend said who saw this film with me is Black Swan like one screwed up trip that you can never forget.

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