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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Films: Should they always be show, not tell?

It is a received wisdom that the best films are the ones with very little dialogue. In other words, let the action tell the story.

As a general rule, I agree with this, as there are few films more tedious than those that talk, talk, talk, rather than show, show, show. But it is not always the case. My wife and I recently saw an excellent Romanian film Child's Pose. It is a simple story about a domineering mother trying to regain control over her adult son.

In the opening minutes, our hearts sank when faced with a stream of dialogue, but it quickly became clear that we needed all that detailed dialogue to understand why the mother had such a dreadful relationship with her son. Although there was very little traditional action in the film, the words were the action and we quickly found ourselves engrossed by the story. We gave the film 8/10, which is a very high rating for us.

So, the message to screen writers is this: just because most films are written a certain way, there are always exceptions to a rule. Child's Pose is one of them.

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