‘Black Swan’ – Pirouette Of Pain
That is exactly what happens to fledging ballet star Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) on her road to the demanding dual dance role in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” Under intense pressure from overpowering macho-maniacal director Thomas Leroy (Vinent Cassel), dominating mother Erica (Barbara Hersey) and herself, Nina takes perfectionism to dizzying heights, or depths. She is also fiercely competitive, particularly threatened by sexually adventurous ballet newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis).
From a script by Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz and John McLaughlin, the plot runs parallel to “Swan Lake,” which here is far from being a fairy tale. Leroy knows Nina can play the virginal White Swan, but can she handle the seductive evil of the Black Swan? Swengali-like, Leroy keeps pushing her to “let go,” give herself up into the dark forces within the latter part.
Nina does this, and it’s her undoing. She finds herself in a world of unreality and surreal physical pain: Mirrored twins, doppelgängers, erotic dreams, strange cuts and scratches. It all becomes curiouser and curiouser, creepier and creepier, scarier and scarier, building up to the big premiere…a premiere generating more trepidation than for Broadway’s accidentprone “Spider-Man” opening. Dancing away from the lean meanness of “The Wrestler,” Aronofsky enters the dark, disturbing world of Roman Polanski (“Repulsion,” “Rosemary’s Baby”). Hell has never had a better ringmaster. In the center of “Black Swan” is a bravado performance by Portman. In addition to turning herself inside out psychologically, she does much of her own dancing.