D. Aranofsky’s BLACK SWAN is one of the best movies I saw last year. It’s a disturbing psychological thriller and a story about art and perfectionism. It’s spooky but I think freaking you out is only a side goal. I think it argues that pushing yourself to the limits of perfection can be painful and self-destructive, but maybe worth it. Striving for excellence ain’t easy.
Natalie Portman plays a New York ballet dancer who’s very good but still just does background parts. To her surprise her boss (Vincent Cassel from EASTERN PROMISES) gives her the lead role in Swan Lake. It’s a dual role and he thinks she’s perfect as the Swan Queen but not yet ready for its evil twin, the Black Swan. (It’s not like an Eddie Murphy dual role where you just wear a fat suit, she has to actually dance in a different style.) So the movie is about her struggle to please him, do a good job and not get replaced. She doesn’t want to end up like her mom (Barbara Hershey), a dancer who never really made it big, or her hero (Winona Ryder) who was forced to retire and seems to have snapped because of that betrayal.
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