Saturday, January 21, 2012

5 Snouts up for Black Swan on DVD

(:)(:)(:)(:)(:) for Black Swan starring Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers as experienced on DVD on my Mac months after everyone else in the world has seen it.    I'm in good company thinking it was brilliant.  I should start off by saying I'm no huge Natalie Portman fan, nor am I immensely fond of ballet.  Yet, I do know Swan Lake (which, after the Nutcracker is the ballet to know) and love Tschaikovsky.    And I was a chubby would-be ballerina for several years in elementary school, falling asleep at night dreaming of dancing en pointe.  So I do have a reason or two to like this film.

The thing that caught and held my attention in this movie was the web of relationships within which the rising ballet star finds herself:  her mother (played flawlessly by Barbara Hershey), her idol Beth (Wynoa Rider) her rival Lily (played hauntingly by Mila Kunis), and most of all her two selves echoing her dual roles as white virginal swan and black seductive swan.  We never know what's real, what's imagined, who is paranoid, who is out to get whom. 

It is rare in Hollywood to find so many strong roles for women in one story.   Many psychologically compelling movies would content themselves with one parallel plot or relationship.  This screenwriter knows mothers and daughters, knows perfectionism taken to extremes, knows the shadow self so many of us hide and project onto others.  All of those common human dynamics get stretched and magnified here by a not-so-funhouse mirror into the full length of Black Swan.  It is unforgettable.

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