Black Swan is rumored to be Natalie Portman’s entree into the rarefied world of the Oscar nominee. She has certainly worked hard to create the persona of the psycho ballerina who suffers from anorexia and bulimia as well as from a stage mother to rival Mama Rose (played by a haggard looking Barbara Hershey). To those whose love of ballet movies comes from such classics as The Red Shoes, this is probably not the film for you. It is more for fans of the thriller genre.
Portman is Nina Sayers, a ballerina who is vying with the others in her company to play the coveted and difficult dual role of Odette/Odile in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The artistic director of the company, Thomas Leroy (played by Vincent Cassel), pits Nina against Lily (Mila Kunis) a dancer new to the company. While Nina gets the role, Lily remains in the wings (no pun intended), planning on stepping into the role should Nina fail to live up to Thomas’ exacting standards.
The dancers begin a friendship of sorts. In the meantime, Nina is plagued by a strange rash and resorts to self-mutilation to keep her emotions in check. After a night of partying with Lily, Nina uncharacteristically oversleeps and misses the start of an important rehearsal. She arrives at the studio to see Lily dancing her role. Thus begins her obsessive hatred of Lily.
Where will it end? Trust me, no good can come of this scenario, but it is fun to watch. Portman apparently trained like a ballerina for a year before filming began on Black Swan. She looks and acts like a ballerina although I understand that much of the dancing was actually performed by others.
I recommend this movie, but not for the squeamish!