The backstory: Black Swan has been nominated for four Golden Globes (and you know I love the Golden Globes!): Best Picture, Drama; Best Actress in a Drama, Natalie Portman; Best Director, Darren Aronofsky; Best Supporting Actress, Mila Kunis)
The basics: Natalie Portman plays Nina, a tightly wound ballet dancer desperate to land the lead in Swan Lake. She's perfect for the white swan, but does she have the fire to also play the black swan?
My thoughts: I love a story within a story, and this film takes classical ballet and makes it accessible for a rather different demographic. For those unfamiliar with the story of Swan Lake, it's simply described near the beginning. Even though it's clear the movie itself is a version of Swan Lake, it has enough twists and turns to make the two versions complimentary rather than redundant. There are times it's (intentionally) unclear what is real and what Nina thinks is real. Portman delivers her best performances in the scenes from her character's imagination. If she wins the Oscar, and I hope she does, it will be because of the duality of these performances; essentially, she plays two characters, and the beauty and horror of her character lies in these extremes.
For me, the film got better as it went along. There were frequent odes to David Cronenberg and his love for unusual objects in unique orifices. I got a hint of David Lynch and his delightfully realistic eeriness and uncertainty too. I commend Aronofsky for hinting at others but driving home a unique artistic vision of his own by the film's end.
As someone usually oblivious to a film's score unless it's dreadful or superb, this score is Oscar-worthy itself. It often utilized key musical interludes from Swan Lake, but it also found it's own, creepy voice too.
The verdict: I didn't love it as much as The King's Speech, but it is one of the year's best. Natalie Portman was Oscar-worthy and Mila Kunis was outstanding (I hope she gets more dramatic roles in the future.) It's a worthy Oscar contender. My only quibble: no Ethan Stiefel cameo.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Length: 108 minutes
Release date: It's in these theaters now
Source: I paid to see it
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