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Us Rating: ****
Natalie Portman nabbed the Oscar for her complicated performance as Nina, a ballerina on the verge of a nervous breakdown -- or artistic breakthrough. Cast as the lead in an NYC ballet's Swan Lake production, the insecure rising star struggles to succeed in the role and battles a sexy rival (Mila Kunis).
Director Darren Aronofsky never eases the tension for a moment, whether showing the obsessive details of a dancer prepping her shoes or a breathless pas de deux between teacher and student. It's a haunting, exquisite drama that should not be missed. (Fox Searchlight, $30)