From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Swan - A

Rated R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use, 107 minutes

This is a brilliantly dark, twisted "Black Swan"

You will either love it or hate it. “Black Swan” is one of those divisive films. A disturbing, twisted very dark psychological thriller from “The Wrestler’s” Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman gives one of the year’s most sublimely intense performances that’s sure to be Oscar-nominated. Complex but mesmerizing, you won’t understand it all but you certainly won’t be able to look away.

“Black Swan” is about a New York City ballet company producing a version of “Swan Lake.” The company’s director (Vincent Cassel) replaces his long-standing prima donna ballerina (Winona Ryder) with a new, talented ballerina named Nina (Portman). Nina has issues of her own, living with an overbearing, controlling mother (Barbara Hershey), a former ballerina herself. Nina has the skill and grace to perfectly play the White Swan, but lacks the passion to play the sensual Black Swan, something a rival ballerina named Lilly (Mila Kunis) possesses. Nina begins exploring her dark side, something that could help her performance or destroy her personally.

Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” is one of the year’s most provocative, complex and entertaining films. Disturbing, intense and supremely dark “Black Swan” is a must see for Portman’s layered, powerful performance. Aronofksy’s moody script and direction, originally conceived as a companion piece to his 2008 film “The Wrestler,” is bizarre and downright strange at times, but much of it works brilliantly. The mesmerizing on-stage finale is brilliantly staged and executed by Aronofsky and highlights the film.

It’s also universally, superbly acted by the entire cast, with solid turns by Cassel, Kunis and in a brief but fiesty, serious turn, Ryder as a washed-up ballerina. Especially memorable is Hershey as Portman’s overbearing but loving mother, who has issues of her own. Hershey’s strong, searing deliverance should bring the veteran character actress another Oscar nomination for supporting actress.

“Black Swan,” however, gives Portman center stage and she delivers an amazing, complex performance as the uptight ballerina that will propel her to accolades and more A-list roles; she embodies the role of a ballerina to near-perfection, her intense ballet training for the film is evident with every turn. The movie’s most provocative scene has her in a lesbian drug-fueled dream sequence with Kunis that should please those that enjoy that type of thing. Aronofsky also peppers the film with some twisty, nifty special effects that help give life to some of Nina’s mental issues (paintings and tattoos come to life, along with different versions of herself).

“Black Swan” is a disturbing psychological drama that is a must-see, but also know the downbeat, heavy film isn’t necessarily for everyone (and you will not leave this movie happy). Textured, dark and serious, you won't understand it all, but in a bizarre, twisted way, "Black Swan" is one of the year's best films.