A toolbox for the construction of plot twists, not an instruction manual (nobody reads those anyway).
A great plot twist is the stuff movie legends are made of. It’s what separates the good from the mind-blowingly great; the fertile ground from which many a movie meme and some of the most iconic lines in all of film history have sprouted (“No, I am your father,” “What’s in the box?!”, Bruce Willis is a ghost, etc.). As a good plot twist thrives on innovation and doing the unexpected, it is impossible to put together a genuine “how-to” guide for the crafting of plot twists. Instead, included below is a curated collection of some of the tools most frequently used in the construction of the best cinematic twists and turns. Maybe some of you might want to use these to craft some of your own twisting narratives, but even if not, as with any art, identifying and understanding the tools being used only enables a deeper appreciation of the finished product.
David Fincher makes some seriously memorable films. That’s like saying water is wet, but his movies are impeccably crafted without seeming ostentatious or painfully clinical. Arguably, the best part about his films is the talking. You won’t find a film of his where character dynamics aren’t laid bare in the form of a lengthy conversation. Literally putting words on screen has been a landmark of his since the beginning of his film career.
Notably, many of Fincher’s movies crescendo to significant arguments and interrogations, and it is never just run-of-the-mill grilling. He has the ability to make talking – for want of a better term – interesting. Part of what makes his interrogations so enveloping and immersive is the insistent, intimate focus on the subjects at hand. Characters are thrust into settings but also command them in cinematically satisfying ways:
Fincher gives us just enough of any given setting, and the details are always overshadowed by the manner in which the characters move and interact within them. (Jones, 44)
Fincher has a new Netflix series coming out in a couple of months; one which will undoubtedly feature some of his signature wordy conversations. While awaiting the release of Mindhunter, we examine what it takes for him to put together the perfect interrogation scene.
“There was a few months when David Fincher was going to direct my script for a movie called The Lookout. It was, as it was with Steven Soderbergh on Out of Sight, a very productive few months. Again, on that movie, I also had a wealth of talented producers, who helped me for years on the script. But those few months with Fincher made me see the script as a movie, not just a story. He didn’t end up directing the film, but when I directed it myself, I shot the script that I wrote for Fincher”