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Preview review: Darren Aronofsky does a pirouette

August 17, 2010 |  6:25 pm

Blackswanportmanx-large Films set in the dance world inevitably contain an aspect of competition -- in movies like "Fame" and "Center Stage," everyone's vying for the lead role.

On the surface, Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" -- which will open the Venice Film Festival in a few weeks -- follows the same formula. Lots of pretty girls, only one precious spot.

But then things get considerably weirder.

The supernatural-tinged drama centers on Nina (Natalie Portman), a rising star on the New York City ballet scene. But when Lily (Mila Kunis) joins Nina's company, Nina feels that her prized role in a production of "Swan Lake" is threatened by Lily.

Or is it? The movie's trailer, like the buzz that preceded it, offers the tantalizing suggestion that what looks like a rivalry could be distorted considerably in Nina's own mind.Is Lily after her or is Nina, as Vincent Cassel's character says in the trailer, her own worst enemy?

From the ominous-sounding score to the black-and-white color scheme, the trailer has a sinister feel. Adding to the effect is the fact that that Portman and Kunis bear a strange resemblance -- both slight, with big, evocative eyes.

How far will Nina's trip to darker places go? The last scene in the trailer, where she plucks a tiny black feather from a cut in her back, both creeped us out and made us wonder how supernatural the film is going to get. Aronofsky is certainly switching gears here after his last effort, the acclaimed character drama "The Wrestler," although both movies are preoccupied with the toll the limelight can take on a performer.

It looks like "Black Swan" will indeed prove absorbing on a genre level. Potentially more intriguing, though, is what the movie has to say about the depths to which jealousy can root itself in the human psyche.

  --Amy Kaufman and Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/AmyKinLA

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT


Photo: Natalie Portman in "Black Swan." Credit: Fox Searchlight


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