Black Swan is a very, very earnest movie about a very, very good but very, very mentally messed-up ballerina, played very, very earnestly by the usually very, very good Natalie Portman, who unfortunately isn’t quite on her toes for this one.
Portman’s character is given a chance at a career-making role, dancing both the white (very, very good) swan and the black (very, very bad) swan in an odd-sounding version of Swan Lake created by an egomaniacal choreographer (is that redundant?). Who is also very, very sleazy. And slimy.
However, she’s very, very repressed, so while she can dance the white swan with technical proficiency, she can’t let her inner black swan come out and be all evil and seductive on the stage. She also has to contend with a very, very domineering mother (well and creepily played by Barbara Hershey) and a very, very (very, very, very) hot rival (well and deliciously played by the very, very (very, very, very) hot Mila Kunis).
The rival has black wings tattooed on her back. Look! A symbol!
Portman’s character is a sick puppy. She has bizarre hallucinations, can’t separate dreams and fantasies from reality, scratches herself till she bleeds, and thinks there’s a real black swan inside her that, from time to time, comes out – e.g., black feathers poking out through the deep scratches she has inflicted on herself, her neck lengthening into a swan’s neck, black wings growing from her back. She wants to destroy the black swan inside her. She wants to liberate and become the black swan inside her. Everything ends messily.
This is psychodrama as filmed by very, very earnest young film students. The movie works so hard at being arty that it fails at being art. Or entertaining.
There is a fair amount of dancing. Unfortunately, it’s almost all scenes of Portman dancing. She’s a fine actress but only an amateur dancer.
There’s a lesbian sex scene, less than convincing, as is usual in movies, but elevated to hotness because Mila Kunis is in it. (Kunis has one of the few good lines in the movie, and she delivers it with verve.)
Don’t waste your time. If you want to see an entertaining dance movie, rent the delightful movie Center Stage, which starred actual professional dancers who turned out to be excellent actors. I think I need to watch that one again to wash away the black taste of swan crap.