Every ballet metaphor told and/or written by dancers, visualized: you don’t feel like a swan, you become one; competitiveness means murdering the competition; and liberating yourself from constraints is suicide. It is on the nose and at times painful to watch, but I would not expect anything else from the master of the afterschool special.

Portman is a pro: she gets you to swallow the banal white swan/black swan analogy whole, and ask for more, goes through every exercise in Aronofsky’s mental torture playbook like it’s nothing, and looks believably cool and composed until she believably isn’t. Watching her in this movie makes a certain trilogy an even bigger crime against directing.

Thumbs up.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, 2010