This is one movie I had been really looking forward to seeing for a while. Billed as a psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman, Black Swan has come out of the gate a serious Oscar contender in several categories, especially best actress for Ms. Portman.
The movie revolves around an area that is both strange and familiar to most people: the world of professional ballet. Strange, in the sense that the great majority (I’m confident in this assumption) of the movie going population are not professional ballerinas or dancers, but have likely been exposed to dance, either through movies and TV or taking lessons when they were younger.
The main character, Nina (Portman), is what I suppose is a typical dancer—very driven and ambitious in an uber-competetive universe. She’s also bulimic and batshit crazy, unfortunately. She has a psycho mother, played by the wonderful Barbara Hershey, of Beaches fame (for me, at least) who gave up her own ballet career to raise Nina and is sweet enough to project her own now-dead dreams onto her daughter; this is one reason Nina is batshit crazy. Also, Nina spends the WHOLE ENTIRE MOVIE looking like she’s on the verge of tears. Constantly. Even when she’s actively crying, she still looks like she’s going to graduate to more tears. It’s both annoying and telling of what a weakling she is…mostly annoying though, because seriously, who looks that pretty when they cry? Natalie Portman, that’s who.
Mila Kunis plays a rival ballerina, Lily…her role in this movie is less important to me than the fact that she’s been able to really thrive and find post That 70’s Show fame. She’s great in this, and she was also one of the best parts about Saving Sarah Marshall.
Back to Black Swan. I thought this movie was really good, and think the Oscar buzz is deserved. I’ll be curious to see how this does in wide release; so far, it has been very well received by audiences and critics alike. It’s definitely different and certainly dark and twisted. I wouldn’t call it scary in a traditional sense, but it lives up to its billing as a psychological thriller. I did find somewhat of a disconnect between the movie the trailer and commercials show and the actual movie I saw. I don’t want to spill the beans, but I’ll let you decide for yourself after you see it!
Black Swan is currently in limited release in select theaters around the country; see its website for when it will be playing near you.
Is Black Swan on your must-see list? If you’ve already seen it, what do you think about its chances at the Academy Awards? Personally, I think the best actress race will come down to either Natalie Portman or Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right; what other actresses do you think are in the mix?
**Update** Today, Black Swan received 12 Critic’s Choice Award nominations, the most of any movie in the award’s 16 year history…is this a sign of things to come?