All right, look. Black Swan was a fine film. My initial pass at a review was a bit cheeky. Darren Aronofsky is clearly a skilled director, and while his parents were probably oppressive presences looming over his adolescent athletic endeavors, it doesn't seem to have damaged him too much. If anything, their presence and continual yelling at his youth lacrosse games (matches?) probably made him what he is: a dark director. A well-adjusted person probably doesn't make Requiem for a Dream, which is an amazing film but isn't exactly a Saturday in the park.
Aronofsky actually crafted a movie I found mostly compelling about ballet, which I find, well, diametrically opposed to all that is compelling. Weirdly, it really is the companion piece to his last foray into the cinemas, The Wrestler. Each features protagonists who are athletically gifted entertainers who ultimately give their all for their craft. The endings of each film are virtually the same, and both times it works.
Maybe I'm weird. Maybe you're weird. I suppose we all have our little peccadilloes.
I did find it odd that at certain points while she was dancing, Portman actually looked like Barbara Hershey. Be afraid, Portman fans; bad plastic surgery may be in her future.
So what we have is a movie that is pretty good sometimes in spite of its lead. Vincent Cassell is outstanding, and Barbara Hershey pulls off the job, but those are the only two above reproach. Mila Kunis is tonally off at times, and Winona Ryder is pretty awful if we're being honest. I suppose this is all a testament to Aronofsky's skills as an auteur.