Nina gets her first taste of life as the Black Swan when she escapes her mother’s lockdown for a night out “rolling” with Lily that culminates in one of the year’s hottest nudity-free big-screen sex scenes. But did it really happen?
The morning after, Nina’s White Swan kingdom comes crashing down as her mother attempts to forcefully pull her back into her tightly wound life by keeping her daughter from her opening-night performance.
As the pace in the second half of the psychological thriller intensifies, Portman’s performance hits its stride. Her physical wounds strangely disappear as Nina breaks free of her formerly stifled life, but it’s all at a cost.
Without giving away too much, director Aronofsky (The Wrestler) manages to turn a ballet production into a well-crafted psychological thriller that makes Swan Lake truly captivating.
Hershey is effective as the mother/Queen and Cassel borders on brilliance as he plays the smarmy artistic director and Nina’s biggest supporter. Kunis is spot-on as the fluid bohemian dancer whose talent rattles Nina to her core. Winona Ryder is absolutely perfect in her few scenes as the aged out former leading lady who goes off the deep end when Thomas announces her retirement during the company’s donor party.
Portman’s performance should easily land her an Academy Award nomination as she effectively navigates ballet scenes — think Jennifer Beals in Flashdance-type shots. She’s emotionally stunted in all the right scenes and you feel Nina’s physical and emotional frustration come to a head as the Black Swan becomes more immersed in her soul.
Black Swan will have a limited release on Dec. 3, 2010.