I thought Darren Aronofsky gave us a gritty picture of the athlete in pain with “The Wrestler”, the comeback vehicle for Oscar winner Mickey Rourke, but he really brings on the pain, physically and psychically, with the balletic struggles of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman, a sure Oscar nominee). Nina is a tortured soul: by her mother, living her dreams though her daughter’s talent; by her insecurities in her struggle for perfection; and by the dual role of The White Swan and The Black Swan in “Swan Lake” that threatens her sanity . She needs to find the nastiness in her meek, insecure, obsessive/compulsive, personality. Nina is pushed by Thomas (nicely played by Vincent Cassel), her director and mentor, and Lily (Mila Kunis as the girl with talent and a devil may care outlook that Nina can only dream of). Winona Ryder has a cameo as the aging dismissed Diva, Beth, and chews the scenery with skill. Aronofsky provides plenty of chills (I haven’t squirmed so much since I broke my ankle two years ago), and plenty to think about as we decipher what is real or not in Nina’s pursuit of perfection. Natalie Portman is astonishing, her dancing skills are beyond reproach. In fact, Bruno Tonioli (Dancing With the Stars) would say, ” You are a frosty virgin, bursting at the seams, devouring yourself with abandon…10!” Portman is getting her weight¬† back, as witnessed on a recent Letterman Show. She’ll need the extra heft to carry all the hardware in the upcoming award season. Rated R.

I give it a 3.8 GPA

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