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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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
The role of the "Jaded Piano Player," the ballet rehearsal pianist who, most memorably, tells Nina that she has been working too hard and she should take a break, is played by John Epperson, a performer who is perhaps better known for his drag persona, Lypsinka. Epperson really did work as a rehearsal pianist for the American Ballet Theatre during the late 1970s and early 1980s, accompanying the rehearsals of such ballet luminaries as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, and Gelsey Kirkland. See more »
When Nina returns home and looks for her mother, after being assigned a role, a camera operator is visible in a mirror. See more »
I had the craziest dream last night. I was dancing the White Swan.
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Natalie Portman lives a dream and a nightmare when she gets a chance to dance Swan Lake in Darren Aronofsky's new film
Black Swan is a very bi polarized film. Portman dances as the white swan flawlessly, but her 'brilliant' choreographer has doubts about her as the black swan. She needs to 'live a little' and be less mannered, but the closer she gets to that point, the more the walls start to close in all around her.
Darren Aronofsky, though he comes close to being heavy handed, has delivered a project which is fiery, spectacular and clever. He sells us ballet as something dark and off putting, starting from his decision to reveal what dancing does to peoples bodies. One mistake and you can crack a toe nail under your body weight, but I don't wanna oversell it. To look at Black Swan in another way, it is an operatic horror film, It has incredible style, but uses it not so much to dazzle but to confuse and intimidate. The paradox of Black swan is that it creepiness is kind of seductive, because it draws you in (much like the way vampires are supposedly romantic)
But style is only half the picture (not even). The rest is in the cast, and mostly in Natalie Portman. She is slow to get started, but she grows quickly and the result is arguably her best performance yet. I've never loved her that much. She's always struck me as more of a girl than a woman, but I guess all she needs is to get a little blood on her hands, and you have an award worthy performance. Vincent Cassel, though he gets some questionable lines, is also at his best. I would have almost liked to see more of him, because you get the sense that his role has a bit more room to grow.
Black Swan does quite a bit, but it's not for everyone. Do not go into this expecting to be emotionally enriched. From the beginning, it is staged to be a mind-twirl, delighting in playing tricks on the audience. Some might call it cheating, but that would be the wrong way to look at Black Swan. It's quite epic, and with year coming to an end, I think it's fair to say that it is among the best of 2010.
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