Natalie Portman takes a dark turn in Venice film

Wed Sep 1, 2010 5:15pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - The Venice film festival opened on Wednesday with "Black Swan," a dark psychological drama starring Natalie Portman as a ballerina who finally lands the lead role but loses her grip on reality as the pressure builds.

The arrival of a rival dancer, played by Mila Kunis, triggers both obsessive jealousy and sexual liberation in a plot echoing that of the ballet around which it revolves.

A steamy love scene between the actresses and elements of violence and horror make it a departure from clean-cut on-screen roles often associated with Portman.

"(Director) Darren (Aronofsky) talked to me about this (sex) scene in our first meeting eight years ago," Portman told reporters in Venice after a press screening.

"He described it as: 'You're going to have a sex scene with yourself,' and I thought that was very interesting because this movie is in so many ways an exploration of an artist's ego and that narcissistic sort of attraction to yourself and also repulsion with yourself."

Portman, her co-stars and the Venice jury led by director Quentin Tarantino walked the red carpet at the official world premiere, signing autographs and mingling with hundreds of fans.

"I just want to say 'amore cinema'," Tarantino told the opening ceremony.

Aronofsky won the top prize in Venice -- the Golden Lion for best picture -- two years ago with "The Wrestler," and he said he saw similarities between it and Black Swan.   Continued...

<p>Actress Natalie Portman arrives to attend a photocall for their movie "Black Swan" at the 67th Venice Film Festival September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>