Monday, December 20, 2010

Black Swan--a review

Black Swan is tense, gripping, macabre and precious. It's about what happens to a stressed-out, perfectionist ballerina, Nina (Portman), when she receives the opportunity of a lifetime to dance as the lead Swan in a highly anticipated New York production of Swan Lake.

Nina's coddled by her mother, a former ballerina: think the tragedy of the wannabe beauty queen mom/career beauty pageant daughter. Nina is perfect for the role as the white swan, but lacks the darkness an passion needed for the role of the black swan. The artistic director (Cassel) is relentless with his criticism, imposing and retracting his sexuality onto the frigid Nina, who wants nothing more than to please him.

Soon, Nina begins to experience psychosomatic fantasies, which blur with reality. She is haunted by a doppelganger who glances hateful stares back from mirrors. Her fingernails crack and bleed, her rash quickens, seeping blood through patches on her shoulder. And as an inconsummate foible, Nina's wary attempts to taper her sexual desires with orgasms, are forbidden, a mockery in her life, along with anything else which might lessen the strain of Black Swan's delusion-laced train wreck narrative.

Though tendencies are ubiquitous to judge Portman's acting as trite or shallow, as the charming, pretty pixie muse or whatnot, her performance as frigid, driven Nina is spot-on in Black Swan, as if driven by an seamless fury or provocation. Hershey is also wonderful as a nurturing mother with he soul of a scorn succubus. Cassel is also very believable in his role as the ball-busting artistic director working to make a perfect ballet production.

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