New On DVD: Black Swan

By Robert B. Desalvo

The latest thriller from Darren Oronovsky earned five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and stars Best Actress winner Natalie Portman.

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Rating: R

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Cutthroat ballet plus ill-timed sexual awakening begets a spellbinding thriller by Darren Aronofsky that earned star Natalie Portman a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actress. Portman plays Nina, a competitive ballerina living in New York City with her creepy, overprotective stage mom (Barbara Hershey). When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace his former lover and prima donna Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) with new blood in his production of Swan Lake, Nina is the natural first choice. Her precision and purity are perfect qualities for the White Swan, but Thomas is concerned she is too icy and restrained to tap into the Black Swan’s carnality.

Enter Lily (Mila Kunis), a fiery, free-spirited and fearless new dancer who embodies all the qualities that Nina must channel to play the Black Swan. The two spark up a twisted friendship that forces Nina to get in touch with her fears and the forces holding her back. When the final number comes, Nina has gone full Black Swan and has lost her grasp on reality. Her quick evolution from a fragile, porcelain-like dancer to a full-feathered fright will shock and awe viewers for years to come.

Black Swan is part drama, part horror show by way of Dario Argento, and completely riveting to watch. Portman’s transformation from a prissy ballerina into an Ecstasy-swallowing, mama-defying, erotically-charged woman who has angry lesbian drug sex with Kunis will make your jaw drop. Aronofsky, who previously directed surreal mind-benders like The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream, combines those films’ dreamlike style with The Wrestler’s dramatic weight for the ultimate ballet thriller that you didn’t know you’d ever want to see. By the time Portman is pulling little feathers out of her skin and her eyes have turned angry red like a bird’s, she will have pulled you down into her psychosexual nightmare with her. Take a deep breath and wait for Portman to finally spread her wings and soar in the role of her career.

Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain “Metamorphosis: A Three-Part Series,” a behind-the-scenes look at the directing, acting and special effects of Black Swan. Blu-ray exclusives include a featurette on the film’s costume design, “Ten Years in the Making,” and interviews with the cast presented by Fox Movie Channel.


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