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'Black Swan' tells a compelling tale that is both unnerving and intense Jeri Jacquin | Fri, Dec 17 2010 12:31 AM

Now playing from director Darren Aronofsky and Fox Searchlight Pictures is the highly enjoyable “Black Swan.”

This film tells the story of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a young ballerina who gives her all to the dance to achieve perfection. What she wants more than anything now is to be given the role of The Swan Queen.

Battling with her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey) has her on an emotional roller coaster. Nina tries to give the artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) just what he wants in order to get the role.

What she doesn’t see coming is a rival in Lily (Mila Kunis), a wild seductive dancer who is everything Nina is not. Lily tries to help Nina let loose and be the beautiful dancer everyone believes her to be.

But something else is wrong, something deeper, something darker and Nina must be the one to discover it all.

Portman is riveting in the lead role of Nina. Everything the viewer needs to know about the character is on Portman’s face: the tragedy, the emotions, the intensity and the beauty of her life as a person and a dancer.

Kunis is just plain wild and sexy as Lily. She takes this character for a ride the audience is not expecting from this actress and she does it extremely well. I can’t wait for Kunis to get her hands on another role like this.

Hershey as the over-bearing and emotionally fragile mother is well done. It is good to see her on the screen once again. Cassel is sleazy but in an oh-so-elegant way. He uses dancers up faster than their ballet slippers wear out.

Aronofsky has brought about a brilliant piece of film-making here. He has allowed the subtle colors and little dialogue to play out to its conclusion. It seems that, along with the praise he received for “The Wrestler,” he has found what audiences want to see.

The cast includes Benjamin Millepied as David, Janet Montgomery as Madeline, Sergio Torrado as Sergio, Sebastian Stan as Andrew and Wynona Rider as dethroned ballerina Beth MacIntyre.

There is some nudity and sexy scenes and a few disturbing images, so parents might want to keep that in mind.

This is definitely a film for adults.

“Black Swan” will give viewers  a grand time with all its twists and turns. The acting is superb, the characters well-written and the music lovely. The costumes are beautiful and the makeup and effects fantastic.  The dancing is extreme and even if you might not be a ballet fan — it can at the very least be greatly admired.

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