Black Swan: Ignore The Broken Plot Behind The Curtain

I really wanted to be seduced by the Black Swan’s various themes and scenes ripe with sex, hallucinations, and violence in the same way Star Wars fans wanted to be taken in by a flying R2-D2 in the Phantom Menace. Sadly however, these attempts to placate my quasi-independent film tastes are no substitution for cohesive and engaging story telling.

Black Swan’s problems begin with its antihero, Nina. In full disclosure, antiheroes tend to annoy me with their emo ridden capitulations to fate. That said, I actually found Nina more likable as someone determined to emerge victorious despite being perpetually on the verge of tears. This meek character could have worked well except she is supposed to be a rising diva in a profession where success is entirely dependent on outward appearances of confidence. Nina’s overt displays of self doubt make her character and therefore the film much less believable. This characteristic would have worked well as an emerging flaw as the character develops, but that leads to my second problem with Nina: she doesn’t entirely develop. The audience never sees Nina as a passably together or sane person. This dulls the impact of her downward spiral into something inevitable rather than tragic.

The next issue comes with the number of scenes that illustrate Nina’s continued loss of control. Individually these scenes are eye popping moments that engage the viewer, but when strung together they muddy overarching theme and story. This is Black Swan’s seduction: persistent provocative imagery that distract the viewer from the film’s disjointed plot. Don’t try to follow the story, just look at the craziness and trust that it all makes sense.

I don’t fault anyone for enjoying a film that so beautifully exaggerates mental breakdown, hallucinations, paranoia, and lesbian sex, but these brilliant moments cannot make up for the lack of good story telling expected from Mr. Arronofsky.

Side Note: Mr. Arronofsky should also man up and admit that his movie was on some level inspired by the Japanese anime Perfect Blue, which by the way, he happens to own the film rights to.