Review of “Black Swan”

From Black Swan’s opening dance sequence through its grand finale, Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller is as sexy as it is smart. And yes, the sex scene between stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis is hot and works well into the drama.

As Portman’s Nina lands the Swan Queen role in her ballet company’s “stripped down, visceral” rendition of Swan Lake, her life begins to parallel the famed legend. As artistic director Thomas Leroy (played by Vincent Cassel) explains, Swan Lake tells the story of a virgin girl who becomes trapped in the body of a White Swan and only true love can break said spell. But before a prince can do so, the White Swan’s evil twin, the Black Swan, seduces him and the White Swan kills herself, finding freedom in death.

Portman’s sheltered twentysomething ballet dancer has devoted her life to the craft, sacrificing adulthood and independence in the process as she lives with her overbearing and overprotective mother (Barbara Hershey), herself a former dancer. Nina’s never-ending quest to be perfect lands her the Swan Queen part as Thomas explains she’s perfect for the White Swan, but has much to learn about seducing the audience and letting go — everything that’s required to play the Black Swan.

Just as Nina ends a bizarre call to her mom to share the good news — “they picked me, Mommy,” she says in a bathroom stall — she begins to mentally and physically unravel.

Enter Kunis’ Lily, a new dancer from San Francisco who is Nina’s polar opposite: confident, flirtatious, independent, relaxed and without a care in the world. Nina’s infatuation is instantaneous from the moment she first glances at Lily on the New York subway to the moment she sees her dance.

After suffering less-than-perfect criticism from Thomas — he calls her “frigid” and begins to seduce her as he steps into the role of the prince, saying Nina needs to become the seductress if she has any hopes of being believable as the Black Swan — Nina and Lily bond.

Portman and Kunis share a definite connection on-screen and their chemistry in the scenes that follow is hard to ignore as Nina begins to realize that Lily can help her truly emotionally transform into the Black Swan.

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