THE RUNDOWN: Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is an insane ballerina. Really. She’s an obsessive perfectionist who’s determined to win the role of the Swan Queen in her company’s upcoming production of Swan Lake. She’ll stop at no means to get it, even if it means losing her dignity to a pervy, slimy instructor (Vincent Cassel) or knocking out the top competition and tease (Mila Kunis).
WHY IT’S GOLDEN: To be honest, I’m sort of with Michelle on this one. I found Black Swan to be a letdown, a build up of psychosexual tension without any real release. But, you do have to appreciate it on some base levels. First off, the story really is intriguing (although, not quite unique), taking the true horrors of being a ballerina to a whole other, nightmare-inducing (or so I’ve heard—I slept soundly after watching it) level. Whether you enjoy the performances or the direction, you’ll desperately want to see how it all ends, especially if you’re a gore whore or fanboy. This really is just a semi-high-brow horror film. Second, the editing, both in terms of audio and visuals, is tight and intense, making even the most menial activities seem menacing. I mean, who would have thought hearing someone clip their toe nails could be so haunting!? And last and most importantly, the actors (particularly Portman) commit themselves fully to the script, even in the more Showgirls-y scenes. You’ve got to watch this even if it’s just for the camptastic Winona Ryder cameo. – Emily
WHY IT’S NOT: The shortcomings of this film for me seems to be those that are conversely gaining most of the praise: Natalie Portman and the film as a truly disturbing, palpable psychological thriller.