Natalie Portman earns early awards buzz for ballet drama

Thu Sep 2, 2010 11:58am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - Critics are queuing up to praise Natalie Portman in her latest movie "Black Swan," the opening picture at this year's Venice film festival, with one review saying the performance "elevates her ... to a major star."

The 29-year-old plays a New York ballerina whose obsession with technical perfection takes a heavy toll on mind and body.

Finally chosen for a lead role after years of toiling in the shadows, Portman's character Nina is derailed when a new member of her dance corps threatens to steal the part.

With scenes of violence, elements of supernatural, a sex scene with her fellow female lead and an emotional rollercoaster ride, Black Swan has been described as a step up for the actress best known for her turns in the Star Wars series.

"Every film festival benefits hugely from a strong opening film, and they don't come a lot stronger than Black Swan," wrote David Gritten in Britain's Daily Telegraph.

"Powerful, gripping and always intriguing, it also features a lead performance from Natalie Portman that elevates her from a substantial leading actress to major star likely to be lifting awards in the near future."

Others also uttered the "A"-word, as festivals in Venice and Toronto tend to mark the unofficial start of the long buildup to the Oscars. "The film looks bound to win its star, Natalie Portman, plaudits and award nominations for her searing performance as the ambitious but insecure Nina," said Geoffrey Macnab of the Independent.

KUNIS ALSO LAUDED   Continued...

<p>Actress Natalie Portman waves during the "Black Swan" red carpet at the 67th Venice Film Festival September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>