'Black Swan';

A backstage ballet melodrama with a frisson of Cronenberg

It’s one of the most anticipated movies at TIFF, and this outrageous psychodrama does not disappoint. Natalie Portman stars as an insecure, self-mutilating prima ballerina who becomes unravelled as she gets her big break—a chance to play both the White Swan and the Black Swan in an adventurous production of Swan Lake. As she struggles to find her dark side, she is trapped between two cruel task masters, a lecherous choreographer (Vincent Cassel) and an overbearing stage mother (Barbara Hershey)—while fearing she’s losing the role to an ambitious understudy (Mila Kunis). The melodrama veers into camp, but that’s part of the fun.  The tone skips from erotic to scary to funny as Darren Aronofsky dances a pas de deux between Polanski and Cronenberg, with shades of All About Eve and The Red Shoes.  The movie has been called a ballet answer to The Wrestler. But though it comes from the same director,  it’s a different genre altogether, if not several. And Portman is brilliant.

Black Swan premieres at TIFF Sept 13 with additional screenings Sept. 14 and 18

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