A ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.
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David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - a recklessness that threatens to destroy her. Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
When Nina returns home after being assigned a role, she stands at her front door to go in. She is wearing her white scarf around her neck. She then puts her key in the lock and other hand on the door knob as she walks through the door to the other side, her hands are still on the door but her scarf is now over her arm. See more »
I had the craziest dream last night. I was dancing the White Swan.
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I'm just back from watching a preview of Black Swan. Natalie Portman and Milla Kunis as ballerinas in an unnamed American ballet company, Vincent Cassel (well-known and rather good French actor) as the director of a new production of Swan Lake, Barbara Hershey as Natalie Portman's mother. Film directed by Darren Aronofsky (responsible for The Wrestler).
Verdict: Complete load of garbage (that's the polite word for it).
There's the germ of a good idea in there. Ballerina driven to succeed by domineering mother; duality of Black Swan/White Swan personality; jealousy and back-biting within the ballet company. Unfortunately, whatever might have been made of it was thrown out the window by the writers and Mr Aronofsky, and the result is a ludicrous succession of increasingly less believable and more ridiculous set pieces, propelled by cliché-ridden psychobabble dialogue and grotesque CGI horror effects (blood, tearing skin, etc). Oh, and of course, a camera that is stationed perpetually looking over the shoulder of the principal character and can't stay still for a single damn second.
There's one user review on IMDb that says that the result is a feast of so-bad-it's-almost- funny high camp, and that just about nails it. There were two points at which I (and most of the audience) laughed out loud at some piece of surpassing crassness. There's a lesbian scene that is so gross, crude and unerotic that I couldn't watch it. (Watch The Hunger (Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon) or Mulholland Drive (Naomi Watts and Laura Herring) to see well it can be done.)
The director tries everything he knows to make the film intense and compelling, but fails more completely with every new trick. At no point does the film engage any emotion other than amazement at how inept the whole thing is. The really sad thing is that it's been nominated for a swag of awards, and almost all the critics' reviews and user reviews on IMDb say that it's great, a masterpiece, tour de force, etc, etc. For those who think it's high art, here's the latest news: the emperor has no clothes.
I gave it a score of 1 out of 10 because that was the lowest available.
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