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Written by / 5/31/2011 / No comments /

BLACK SWAN

title: BLACK SWAN
year: 2010
cast: Natalie Portman, Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder
rating: ***

Anyone unfamiliar with John Cassavetes' OPENING NIGHT will think this movie, about a young woman suffering through a bizarre, hallucinatory catharsis to adhere to a performance she’s not quite equipped for, is completely original.  But most will be mesmerized by director Darren Aronofsky’s creative journey of Natalie Portman’s insufferably shy ballerina given the part of the Swan Queen in “Swan Lake.” She’s perfect for the role – or at least, half of it. Her gracefully practiced precision works as the white swan, but embodying the antithesis black swan might take some work. And the nightmare begins, as Portman, going from the studio: dealing with a menacing, badgering, flirtatiously sexist though cunningly charming director (Vincent Cassel) to home: bickering with a suffocating mother (Barbara Hershey) straight out of PSYCHO. In-between is the film’s most grounded character, a seemingly normal, streetwise Mila Kunis, Portman’s understudy: acting like a buddy/mentor but with her own agenda. The first half works best as our troubled heroine, stalked by her own double, leans out from a self-imposed prison to grasp the wild side of her nature. But as Portman literally morphs into something otherworldly – the computer animation taking over – it becomes an artsy horror flick that doesn’t quite know what to be. And yet, by the end, as "Swan Lake" completes with the roar of the crowd, you’ll feel you’ve seen something pretty unique (till realizing Aronofsky’s THE WRESTLER ended in the same leaping fashion).
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