We all know the story. Virginal girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan. She desires freedom but only true love can break the spell. Her wish is nearly granted in the form of a prince, but before he can declare his love her lustful twin, the black swan, tricks and seduces him. Devastated the white swan leaps of a cliff killing herself and, in death, finds freedom.
Thomas Leroy, artistic director of a New York City ballet company, sets the stage for their opening production of Swan Lake. Nina, played by Natalie Portman who is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, lands the lead role and struggles to overcome her uptight, unrealistic standards for perfection and her overbearing, over controlling mommy dearest.
He picked me, mommy! I'm the new swan queen!
Nina's stark swings from sweet, perfect ballerina to dark, paranoid nutcase earns her a spot in the elite league of crazy chicks, which includes:
- Peyton in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (played by Rebeca De Mornay, I don't care what my good friend Jill says)
- Hedy in Single While Female (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
- And, of course, Alex in Fatal Attraction (Glenn Close)
I won't discuss the big difference between Nina and her psycho peers for fear of spoiling to movie for those that haven't seen it yet. The movie is a little didactic at times, especially when Thomas is coaching Nina with statements like, "Perfection is not just about control. It's also about letting go. Surprise yourself so you can surprise the audience. Transcendence! Very few have it in them."But they never feel forced, just blatant as he calls out the constant white swan vs. black swan struggle.
I loved this suspenseful, creepy thriller. I truly jumped in my seat at least three times. It scores number three on the list so far, and I think Natalie Portman earns the Oscar.