Image Credit: Niko TaverniseBlack Swan — the new psychological thriller from Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Pi) starring Natalie Portman as an ambitious ballerina — took its first flight yesterday at the Venice Film Festival. (Click here to read EW’s take on the creepy trailer.) Based on early reviews, the movie is already set to be one of the year’s most love-it-or-hate-it movies, with some critics praising it (and star Natalie Portman) as an early Oscar favorite, and others flipping it the (rhetorical) bird. Check out some snippets from the online reviews below.

“A wicked, sexy and ultimately devastating study of a young dancer’s all-consuming ambition, Black Swan serves as a fascinating complement to Darren Arononfsky’s The Wrestler, trading the grungy world of a broken-down fighter for the more upscale but no less brutal sphere of professional ballet.” — Peter Debruge, Variety

“The movie is so damn out-there in every way that you can’t help admiring Aronofsky for daring to be so very, very absurd. Swan is an instant guilty pleasure, a gorgeously shot, visually complex film whose badness is what’s so good about it.” — Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

“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.” — David Gritten, Telegraph (UK)

“As a sensory experience for the eyes and ears, Black Swan provides bountiful stimulation…. But when the script by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz, based on the latter’s story, struggles to carve out a real-world parallel to the life-and-death struggle depicted in the dance story, it goes over the top in something approaching grand guignol fashion.” — Todd McCarthy, Indiewire

“Best film I’ve seen all year…. Aronofsky has made his first masterpiece and Portman must now be favourite for the Oscar.” — Rob Beames, Obsessed with Film

So how about it, PopWatchers: Do these reviews make you want to strap on your toe shoes and (daintily) run to theaters when Black Swan comes out Dec. 1?

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