Black Swan

Rated 4.0

With its intermingling of fantasy, fable, dance and psychological devastation, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan has inevitably drawn comparisons to Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s seminal 1948 ballet film The Red Shoes. The more apt comparison is with Aronofsky’s 2008 “comeback” picture The Wrestler, and Black Swan star Natalie Portman seems to find the same personal inspiration playing a pretty ingénue who’s been “young and promising” for too long that Mickey Rourke found in playing a washed-up 1980’s relic. Like The Wrestler, Black Swan is obsessed with the variant levels of performance and the perhaps indistinguishable point at which internalizing a role crosses over into dementia, especially when the “fake” part involves very real pain (both films are basically about method acting). Portman is excellent in the lead, but the supporting players are a mixed bag, with Mila Kunis’ naturalism jibing particularly poorly with the Grand Guignol style.