A journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.
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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.
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Yeah, it must be Darren Aronofsky, at it again. I'm certain I've just seen a brilliant piece of filmmaking, but at the same time I feel like I've just been run over by a convoy of trucks. It will be a while before I calm down enough to sleep, so here I am.nnNot everyone is as big as of an Aronofsky's style as I am, but one thing that can't be denied is that he is great at working with actors. Ellen Burstyn, Mickey Rourke, and now Natalie Portman are all very accomplished actors who have found a new level and delivered transcendent performances under Aronofsky. In Black Swan, Natalie Portman's turn as Nina Sayers is, hands down, the best acting performance of 2010-- male or female. If you'll forgive the cliché, I completely forgot Nina was Natalie Portman about five minutes into the movie. As Nina goes deeper and deeper into her role as the Swan Queen, Portman only becomes more and more captivating. The entire cast is excellent, but Portman alone makes this movie a must-see.nnDarren Aronofsky is at his boldest heading up Black Swan. His depiction of Nina's struggles as she succumbs to growing pressures from her director, her mother, her rivals, her physical ailments, her personal need for a perfect performance.. it is intense, thrilling, exhausting, and truly gripping throughout. Part of what makes it work is that we are completely along for the ride with Nina. We see what she sees, we experience what she experiences, and sometimes it is truly distressing stuff.nnAs great as the first 60-70 minutes are, man oh man, nothing can prepare you for the final 30. This finale takes you to places I can't even describe. I dare say it's on par with Requiem for a Dream's devastating third act. It's a masterfully crafted climax that only Aronofsky could deliver.nnI am glad Aronofsky is able to do what he does. His brutal and uncompromising style is definitely not for everyone, and it's not box office gold, but for those viewers who connect with what he's doing, the experience is truly something special.
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