This was entertaining and elevated by the fabulous performance of its lead, Natalie Portman, but underneath everything, it’s kind of dopey, no? A repressed ballerina gets the lead role in Swan Lake but starts to lose it as she attempts to access the Black Swan within? It’s like one of those bad Freudian movies they used to make, complete with the dance master saying things like, “You have to seduce the audience, let go, find your black swan…” and so on.
But no, to be fair, it’s only goofy when you think about it. Otherwise, I was immersed and there are a couple of good creepy moments and Mila Kunis is sexy and Portman genuinely heartbreaking. Plus there’s the nice way in which the people trying to get Portman’s character to let go are, in one sense, right – she does need to relax a little! – and also nefarious in their motives. But my favorite scene takes place in a bar where the ballerina picks up a sort of ordinary guy who’s never been to a ballet. She tries to explain the plot of Swan Lake to him and, while it’s clear the story contains in some sense the whole panorama of her girlish hopes and dreams, he’s completely baffled and uninterested. Nice, sad, human stuff.
All in all, it’s no Toy Story 3, but it’s worth watching.