**Update: Read full review for Black Swan now!***

At the 2010 Venice Film Festival, the opening feature is Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. It’s a psychological thriller that stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder. There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding the film prior to its premiere and now that some lucky members of the press have seen it, the first reactions are online. Take a look…

The Acting:

Portman, while playing this complex character with considerable expertise, also threw herself into the discipline of dance. While she is clearly substituted for some long shots, and on other occasions is filmed dancing from above the hips only, some of the sequences are obviously her, and she acquits herself credibly.[ The Telegraph]

“Portman, who has danced but is no ballerina, does a more than credible job in the big dance numbers and the tough rehearsals that are so essential to the film. In her acting, too, you sense she has bravely ventured out of her comfort zone to play a character slowly losing sight of herself. It’s a bravura performance.” … “Kunis makes a perfect alternate to Portman, equally as lithe and dark but a smirk of self-assurance in place of Portman’s wide-eyed fearfulness. Indeed, White Swan/Black Swan dynamics almost work, but the horror-movie nonsense drags everything down the rabbit hole of preposterousness.” [THR]

The Aesthetics:

Aronofsky and costume designer Amy Westcott are none too subtle with the film’s symbolism, dressing Nina in innocent white outfits while those around her wear darker and considerably more ominous colors. These exaggerated stylistic choices (somewhat at odds with Aronofsky’s documentary-like sense of detail and Matthew Libatique’s handheld shooting style) extend to the production design as well, adding yet another motif: Reflective surfaces, mostly mirrors, offer fleeting glimpses of Nina’s other half. [Variety]

The Direction:

Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique choreograph the camera in beautiful counterpoint to Portman’s dance moves, especially in rehearsals, and the muted color scheme on rather grainy stock look like a more refined version of what the director did on “The Wrestler.” Tchaikovsky’s ever-present music supplies plenty of its own drama and the dance world details seem plausible enough. [Indie Wire]


Best film I’ve seen all year. Left me devastated, excited, tense and emotionally drained. Tarantino will be a fool if he doesn’t give this the Golden Lion…Aronofsky has made his first masterpiece and Portman must now be favourite for the Oscar.” [ObsessedWithFilm]

Check back for more news and reviews regarding this year’s Venice Film Festival.

What do you think of the early buzz surrounding the film? Does it live up to the hype?