starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey
screenplay by Andres Heinz and Mark Heyman and John McLaughlin
directed by Darren Aronofsky
by Walter Chaw She's incapable of reaching climax throughout the first hour of Black Swan, but then the floodgates open in the most Keatsian work in Darren Aronofsky's growing portfolio of Romanticist explorations. Call it a ballet of the consummation sublime, the idea that once achieved, the immediate disappointment and disgust for the act overwhelms the sexual release of the moment before--and watch Black Swan in a lovelorn double-feature with Jane Campion's Bright Star for the full impact of Aronofsky's achievement here. As a thriller, Black Swan doesn't do much more than graft a few phantom frames onto the periphery of Jean Benoit-Levy's Ballerina, Altman's The Company, or Powell/Pressburger's The Red Shoes--but note how the picture owes its creepy intensity to the sort of social satire-through-body horror popularized by David Cronenberg. (Though it's Cronenberg as fever dream rather than as insectile chill.) Note, too, how Natalie Portman finally finds herself the actor she was always considered to be in a role that breaks her legs and feet, forces her to masturbate and self-mutilate, and in the end transforms her into the very effigy of the absolute, voracious, consumptive nature of creation. In its nasty sexual biology, it's the evocation of the secret ending to Charlotte's Web--the off-stage fucking, and cannibalism, and matricide, and all that hunger prettified into a phrase artfully turned.