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TIFF ’10: Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan”

By Sean O’Connell

HollywoodNews.com: The fest kicks off on Sept. 9, and Hollywood News will be on the ground bringing you reviews, interviews, and a clearer glimpse at the ever-shifting Oscar race. [See trailer below]

So far, we discussed Casey Affleck’s “I’m Still Here,” about Joaquin Phoenix’s attempt to infiltrate the hip-hop community (and grow a breathtakingly shaggy beard).

Today, we’re turning our attention to a high-profile drama with serious Oscar potential, which recently tipped its hat by releasing a beautiful, intriguing trailer:

Black Swan

The Plot: Set in the world of competitive ballet, “Black Swan” follows a veteran New York City dancer (Natalie Portman) who begins to buckle under strange pressures when a rival ballerina (Mila Kunis) finds favor with their instructor (Vincent Cassel).

The Director: Darren Aronofsky (“The Wrestler,” “The Fountain,” “Requiem for a Dream”)

The Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel

The Scoop: Aronofsky’s latest instantly earns must-see status as he’s coming off the widely praised “Wrestler.” We’ve heard there is a supernatural element to Andres Heinz’s story (which is hinted at in the trailer’s final shot). We’ve also heard there’s an intriguing lesbian relationship between Portman and Kunis (also hinted at). That will help sell tickets. “Black Swan” may turn off audiences if its as ephemeral as Aronofsky’s “Fountain.” However, that would only make me love it more.

Awards Potential: Aronofsky’s a visual director with a signature style. He didn’t break through with “Wrestler,” but has a good shot at Oscar consideration with “Swan.” Ditto Portman, who has been nominated before (for “Closer”) and should have been considered more than once (like for “V for Vendetta”). Depending on the strength of the ensemble, I could see us talking about Kunis and Barbara Hershey come Oscar time, if Aronofsky can do for them whet he did for Ellen Burstyn in “Requiem.”

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