Natalie Portman in Black Swan

An excellent movie the first time around, I thought Black Swan wouldn’t endure a second look. The twist wouldn’t be surprising anymore and the ongoing reminder of “white swan: good, black swan: bad” may ruin the experience. (SNL was right on the money making fun of the tireless repetition of this plot point.)
Surprisingly, Black Swan holds on very well. Through tight framing and effectual visual cues (nails, self-mutilation), director Darren Aronofsky does a brilliant job creating suspense. His job is actually superior to Oscar favorites David Fincher (The Social Network) and Tom Hopper (The King’s Speech), whose approach to directing is more straighforward.
Natalie Portman, however, doesn’t fare as well. Her virginal ballerina is a bit one-note. It makes the contrast with the darker version of herself more evident, but it comes out as flat. Not that her shot to an Academy Award is any less certain, but Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) may be more deserving.