Black Swan [2010]

Darren Aronofsky outdoes himself with Black Swan, which is saying a lot, since he’s the one who gave us Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain. A mesmerizing, hardcore, in-your-face thriller that works as a testament to the sacrifice that goes into ballet, as well as a study on the psychological collapse, moral decay and sexual awakening of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman). Aronofsky has taken something light and stylish, something that could seem as foreign to him as ballet, and rendered something truly dark, visceral. Ballet is the vehicle through which the filmmaker portrays the havoc wreaked by an incessant and unbridled quest for perfection. The cast is just as great. Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder are both chilling as Nina’s overprotective mother and a “has-been” dancer, respectively, and Vincent Cassel is solid as Thomas. Gone are the days when all Mila Kunis could brag about was being the best thing about That 70’s Show. Her work as sexy, mysterious Lily (and an imminent Oscar nomination) will definitely solidify her film career. However, it’s Natalie Portman’s tour de force performance that carries the film. I can practically see the Academy Award in her hands.