Monday, 23 July 2007

Movie plots: conspiracies of silence

The Jennifer Aniston/Clive Owen thriller Derailed was MWeb’s Sunday-night movie last night and I thought it was all a riller should be: continuously creepy, sometimes downright scary, and with plenty of omigod! plot twists. I really enjoyed it, which was unexpected, because when it was released onto circuit I couldn’t have been less interested in seeing it. I just didn’t want to sit through a tale about some philandering pair who get it on in a seedy motel, get mugged, then get their comeuppance. It sounded so tedious.

This is not, in fact, what the story is about at all. Which brings me to the conspiracy of silence among movie reviewers who work hard to tell us what a film is about (and if it’s worth seeing) without giving away too much of the plot. In an age where information is everything, and nothing is sacred, this is very unusual. After all, if any gossip magazine you care to pick up off the shelves will tell you (and quite likely also show you) who’s having sex with whom, where and how, what drugs they’re taking and whether they bother to put on underwear before they go out, what’s the big deal about giving away a little storyline?

The same applied to The Sixth Sense, a movie ostensibly about a child psychologist who treats a disturbed boy who can see the dead. For various reasons I didn’t get to see this film when it was on circuit and months later I got it on video. And the plot twist came as a complete surprise to me.

Again, this was unusual: not only had I read scores of reviews about the movie by the time I got around to seeing it, but most of my friends had seen it by then too – yet not one of them gave away the twist in the tale.

The Harry Potter plotlines have engendered the same conspiracy: apparently pages of the last manuscript were leaked and various newspapers ran them – yet most editors took steps to prevent telling those readers who didn’t want to know what happens, what happens, by printing the pages either upside-down or overleaf.

I find this all rather admirable. The only downside is that in protecting the plot twists, movie reviewers can be so coy about what a movie is actually about that they render the story too ordinary.

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1 comment:

angel said...

i could not agree more- i have had a few movies slip by me because the advertised story line was boring... but so far i use movie trailers- if the trailer grips me = i'll watch the movie- kak trailer = i don't bother.