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Movie Review: Black Swan

Alternate Title: One Flew Over the Tutu's Nest

Story: This film disappoints. Wanna-be prima ballerina Nina Sayers finally gets the role of her young life as the Swan Queen in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Sadly, we discover very quickly that Nina is a psycho case. Will her visual and auditory hallucinations make her fail at her lifelong quest? We agonizingly watch as Nina takes the express train to Nutville. Sadly, Darren Aronofsky also fails at his task as director as do writers Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz and John McLaughlin.

Nina is surrounded by a controlling mother, a stern task master of a choreographer and another dancer who seems to be stalking her and wants to replace her as the Swan Queen. You would think that with all of these awful characters surrounding our young swan she would elicit our sympathy. Unfortunately, Nina's self-destructive, perfectionist and obsessive behavior prevent us from giving a damn.

That said - the film is visually interesting thanks to director of photography, Matthew Libatique and the music is terrific. Would those two things give you your money's worth at the cinema? I think not.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHTfDcP0APw

Acting: Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers does not have enough nuance in her performance to pull it off. Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy is suitably creepy. Mila Kunis as Lily does a fine job. Barbara Hershey as Erica Sayers is poorly written as a character and only comes off as a cartoon. Winona Ryder as Beth Macintyre/the Dying Swan doesn't have much to do.

Trivia: Darren Aronofsky's directorial debut was in the late 1990s with Pi (1998), a black-and-white American psychological thriller, for which he won the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and the Gotham Open Palm Award. Aronofsky's next film was the drama Requiem for a Dream (2000), which is based on the novel of the same name written by Hubert Selby, Jr., with whom Aronofsky wrote the screenplay. In the mid-2000s, he directed The Fountain (2006), which comprises three storylines in settings separated by 500 years: a present-day scientist and his cancer-stricken wife; a conquistador and his queen; and a space traveler who meditates on his past love. His next film, The Wrestler (2008) was a drama about a past-his-prime, impoverished professional wrestler. Mickey Rourke was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor for his starring role.

Predilection: I usually like Darren Aronofsky's work.

Critters: None

Food: Half a grapefruit and an uneaten birthday cake. Ballet dancers don't do a lot of eating.

Sex Spectrum: A scene depicting a lesbian encounter.

Blatant Product Placement: None

Soundtrack: You can't go wrong with Tchaikovsky.

Opening Titles: Other than the title all credits are at the end.

Visual Art: The film is lovely to look at.

Theater Audience: There were two other people in the secret balcony with us. The audience downstairs laughed at inappropriately (like I did) a few times.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: There are a few scenes that are squirmy due to self-mutilation.

Drift Factor: I didn't drift.

Predictability Level: I did not care what happened.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Neither

Length: Under two hours