Black Swan

Director Darren Aronofsky's (The Wrestler) splendid psychological thriller, Black Swan, brings ballet and psychotic together brilliantly, and deservedly scores nominations for several awards including the Golden Globes as well as the Critics' Choice Awards.

When cold, pompous artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassell) decides to oust his aging prima ballerina and lover Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) out of the lead role, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is ugly duckling turns beautiful swan as she comes first in line – or perhaps not. While she's fitting for the part of the Swan Queen, he worries that she lacks the dark, seductive nature to play the Black Swan.

Nina's confidence takes further bashing with the entry of new dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), who eludes all the charm and sensuality required to play the smothering, dangerous Dark Swan – and Nina finds herself an untimely rival.

Erica (Barbara Hersey), plays retired ballerina and overbearing mother whose career ended when she had Nina. She lives voraciously through Nina and the resulting pressure suffocates the poor ballerina, who is already tormented enough by her own fears. What's worse, Erica's protection proves an obstacle to Nina's much-needed transition to a worthy Black Swan.

Buckling under all the expectations, both her own, Erica's and Vincent's, Nina threads on the thin line between breakthrough and breakdown as her paranoia takes over.

She sees people and things that are not there. She begins to grow what appears to be black wings. She sees her face people dressed in black. She chews on her fingernails and peels off skin in her anxiety. The threat of injuring herself again seems likely to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. So what will it be? Breakthrough or breakdown?

Whichever the outcome, I shall not spoil it for you here; watch it for yourself. For within Black Swan is one of the rare moments you can clearly observe an actor's dedication to his craft. In this case, actress Natalie Portman's difficult role as a character darkly beautiful yet tormented within wonderfully portrayed her own dedication to and aptitude for acting. Perhaps the same maniacal dedication as ballerina Nina? We wouldn't know, would we?

Another reason being for that many stories – as well as their morals – jam packed in a film, it's worth the typical Singaporean's hard-earned cash. An extremely demanding film that plays on your own fears and emotions, many things seem to be happening all at once: the sad demise of an aging ballerina, both career and love; an intense and technically beautiful ballet competition, the story of an overbearing mother many of us will identify with; and the fear for failure, if magnified like in Nina's head.

And of course, with music, dance and great visuals, the film is artistically intriguing by itself.

You might also like: Homecoming, It's A Great Great World, Hereafter, Season of the witch, The Tourist, Little Fockers movie review, Tron Legacy movie review

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