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Review: Natalie Portman Provides Chilling Performance in Black Swan

Putting The Social Network and Inception aside, this was the first movie I’ve seen this Oscar season and to say it blew me away would be an under statement. There was a lot to digest. Going in, I had almost no knowledge of the story and the thought of seeing a movie centered around a ballet dancer seemed less than intriguing. The trailer for Black Swan is what blew me away and drew me into the theater on opening night.

I made it a point to write the word chilling in the headline for this review. After seeing the movie and spending a few hours digesting what I had just seen, that was the word that came to me. Natalie Portman, known for roles in movies like Star Wars (I-III) and V for Vendetta, gave her best performance to date, one that can only be described as Oscar worthy. If there were ever a performance worthy of recognition with an Academy Award this would be it. There aren’t enough words to describe her. Movies centered around an internal battle are always the hardest on actors and this would fall in that category.

After Portman, the rest of the cast is rather unimpressive in their performances. Mila Kunis plays the slut. Vincent Cassel plays the douche bag. Winona Ryder plays the has been. While Cassel’s performance was excellent, it’s nothing out of his comfort zone and at times, felt like he was holding back a little too much. The only performance that really stood out to me aside from Portman’s was Hollywood veteran Barbara Hershey who played her mother. In a very Monique like performance in Precious, she played a hard nosed, take no prisoners mother hell bent on making her daughter a success.

The movie overall was fantastic. It was scary, thrilling and funny, all with a layer of mystique created by constant flash backs and alternate realities. The movies incredibly gripping undertone keeps the audience engaged and completely involved in the story. Without a true villain, the movie is something completely new. When you leave the theater, if you liked the movie or not, you’ll say that this was like no other movie. While I believe there will be a movie that challenges this for Best Picture, Black Swan has to have knocked The Social Network from the front runner position it held up until this time . Portman could very well walk away with an Oscar for her performance as Nina Sayers.

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