Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey
If you have been looking for that perfect film to get you in the mood for the holidays
is not it. It is a twisted psychological and sexually confused ballerina movie. Even though it will not put you in the holiday spirit, it
is a visual marvel that you should not miss. Director
Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler)
has made a film that will keep your eyes fixed to the screen. You will not always know what is happening. During certain scenes, you may not want to know what is happening, but one thing is for certain you will not be able to stop watching.
Natalie Portman (Closer)
plays the lead role of Nina. She is a ballerina in New York City trying to become the star of her dance company. She has intense and overbearing support at home from her mother, played wickedly by Oscar nominee
Barbara Hershey (The Portrait of a Lady)
Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s Thirteen)
is the manipulative director of the dance troupe and has the power to make Nina’s dreams come true. Oscar nominee
is the outgoing star of the company who has been forcibly retired by Cassell and copes by attempting to end her own life. A new dancer played by
Mila Kunis (The Book of Eli)
becomes competition and a fixation for Nina.
Once Nina becomes the lead in Swan Lake, playing both the white and black swans, her obsession with perfection begins to permeate all aspects of her life. Her mother’s desire for her daughter's success blurs the boundaries of a mother-daughter relationship. Desperate for approval from her director, Nina flirts with physical temptation. Paranoid of losing her role to Kunis, she is consumed by fear. Images of a doppelganger in all black and disturbing wounds to her body become a reality for Nina. She is told many times that she has the ability to portray the white swan but lacks the conviction to embody the black swan. An unexpected attraction towards Mila Kunis awakens a lustful instinct that enables the black swan to emerge.
Natalie Portman is exceptional in this role. The black swan takes control with a vengeance at the end of the film in shocking fashion. The audience watches helplessly as Nina spirals towards madness. Just this week Portman was nominated for a well deserved Golden Globe Award and I suspect we will see her on Oscar night as well.
Darren Aronofsky was also nominated this week for a best director Golden Globe. Aronofsky is no stranger to dark story telling. His use of imagery is outstanding. The juxtaposition of the white and black swan personas create the suspense that fuels this morbid tale. You never know if you are watching a supernatural phenomenon at work, a stalker trying to gain control over an innocent girl, or a psychotic breakdown caused by an inability to handle the pressures of success. The end, although tragic, is a bold choice and really the only way the story could reach a satisfying conclusion. The film opens nationwide today and is worth the price of the ticket.
score 8 out of 10