PJ and I saw Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan, a psychological thriller about a ballerina and her rival, while we were in New York last week. Natalie Portman stars as Nina, the innocent ballerina who is in line to play the Swan Princess in Swan Lake. Her director, however, is skeptical that she has the sensuality to play the black swan. When he challenges her to get in touch with her less-than-perfect, sexy side, she begins a quest to achieve everything he wants her to be. Here’s the trailer:

Nina begins the film as a more or less virginal princess who, while technically perfect, never really achieves perfection in her dancing because she never embraces passion. Just as the previous prima donna, played by Winona Ryder, is being pushed out of the company and into retirement due to her age, a new, more sensual dancer, Lily, played by Mila Kunis, joins the company. She quickly becomes Nina’s rival for the part.

As a result of the competition, Nina soon becomes obsessed with Lily. What’s initially unclear is whether this obsession is the result of Lily’s desire to push Nina out of the way and take the role for herself or of Nina’s own fantasies. These fantasies revolve not only around dancing but also around her latent sexuality–while she has no chemistry with the male dancers, she’s clearly attracted to Lily, who seems more than willing to help Nina break out of her shell. But again, is she helping Nina or trying to destroy her?

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