Mr. Movie

'Black Swan' dives into darkness

Director Darren Aronofsky leads you into deep, dark territory as his leading lady does a macabre and deadly dance with madness.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Natalie Portman gives a virtuoso performance. Barbara Hershey and Mila Kunis do the perfect pirouettes that pressure the poor young woman and feed her insecurity.

Portman is Nina Sayers, a journeyman ballet star wanna-be who gets a career break. She’s to play the white swan and the black swan in a swank theater’s presentation of Swan Lake. The virginal Nina is a picture perfect white swan, but she lacks the sex and sizzle to dance the bird’s darker version.

Hershey is her self-sacrificing, guilt-inducing, micro-managing stage mom. The lady is nearly as nutty as her child. Kunis plays Nina’s rival and newfound friend.

The four Golden Globe nominations and three Screen Actors Guild nods are fueling the now-choreographed raves about Black Swan.

Did we see the same movie?

Love, jealousy, sex and insanity are plopped into a contrived and convoluted plot by a first-time story writer and three first-time screenwriters. They mix a Hitchcockian thriller into the classic ballet. Portman is the white swan, Kunis the black. Hershey is the queen. Winona Ryder has a short part as the dying swan, and on it goes.

Though Black Swan sits at around 110 minutes, non-relatable characters and crises drag out the plot and make it seem a reel or two too long.

To give Aronofsky some credit, with a good story to tell the guy is an outstanding director. Case in point is Requiem for a Dream in 2000, in which he handled the same descent into madness theme much more creatively -- and much, much better.

But in that case, Aronofsky did his own story and wrote his own screenplay.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated R for mature themes, sex, violence. It opened Wednesday, Dec. 22 at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.