Film Peeve

Here’s a new one:

Character is in a situation that triggers a memory. Now we go with that character into the memory for a while, a minute, two 30 seconds, whatever, but it’s long enough to shift context and follow a sub-narrative. Then we return to the original context, the present, with character’s face absorbed in the memory. Another character then has to jog the first character’s attention. “Joe? Joe” Where were you?” And the first character then has to come back, pretend it’s nothing and resume the first nbarrative thread.

That whole jogging of the first character’s attention is completely unnecessary. It’s stupid to pretend that just because we in the audience experienced a time shift with the second thread that the characters in the first context also experienced it. The whole thing could have taken place in a split second for them. I don’t mind the actual context shift itself, I just hate the way they transition back. It’s so rote, total cliche, and they do it in the finest of dramas and films. Just skip it completely.

One Comment

  • Yep– that’s an annoying cliche alright.

    It’s so much better when time and perspective shifts in film are, if anything, under-explained rather than over-explained. Many of the best things I’ve seen recently sustain (in different ways) that delicious sense of uncertainty or ambiguity about questions of the time frame or order of events, or even what we are to think is real vs. memory, fantasy, illusion, etc. In my favorite films these issues tend to be permanently unresolvable, suspended tensions.

    On another note, love it when you post a whole thought here.

    It’s nice to have something to think about.

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