Black Swan

DRAMA; 1hr 48min

STARRING: Natalie Portman, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis

Balletmania: Portman

Dance is madness in Darren Aronofsky’s operatic drama, with Natalie Portman pared down to a sinewy filament as perfectionist New York City ballerina Nina Sayers. Nina is enslaved by ballet with every breath she takes. Spurred on by her controlling mother (Hershey), she wins the principal role of the Swan Queen in a radical production of Swan Lake. Nina is the fairytale White Swan’s fragile parallel: her challenge will be to capture the craven heart of the evil Black Swan twin. Company artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel), who is French and pulls no sexual punches, is determined to unleash his repressed star’s latent passion. Meanwhile, Nina is secretly losing her taloned grip, and laidback new girl Lily (Kunis) is everything she’s not.


Portman makes an ethereal dancer but no way is this Gothic barn burner a gauzy twirl. Writer-director Aronofsky (The Wrestler) keeps its confines harsh and stark as Nina’s imprisoning obsession overwhelms her. In the hallucinogenic meltdown of her psychological crash and burn neither she nor we can discern what is real, only that the all-consuming show must — and will — go on!