2010. USA. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Watchdate: 12/14/2010
It's as least as good as everyone says. It gripped my attention completely for its entire running time, and didn't let go for quite awhile after the credits had rolled. Aronofsky's direction is way over the top, to the point where even his subtleties are over the top. But that's okay because it's about ballet. With a subject matter as dramatic and theatrical as that, it's almost an obligation to go over the top as the Archers might tell you (if you haven't seen The Red Shoes, that shit's on Netflix Instant so hop to it). Between this and Requiem for a Dream, Aronofsky could fairly be called an expert at visualizing how compulsions torment and distort the mind. Describing any of the scenes I liked would do them a disservice because out of context they would sound fairly idiotic. But I will single out Natalie Portman's tearing and scratching as particularly primal, disturbing and somehow eerily accurate. Portman in general did a crazy good job. Her voice sounded exactly like so many shy girls I have known and yet was absolutely native and specific to her character. Vincent Cassel gave the ambiguity of his role the depth it needed. I was also delighted at the unexpected appearance of Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey, both hit it out of the park with suitably frightening ease. Unfortunately (but fortunately for the movie) Natalie Portman was so skinny that she wasn't very attractive in a number of scenes. Fortunately, Mila Kunis more than made up for any of the hotness lost.