Narrative needs backstory

from David Denby’s review of State of Play in the April 27 New Yorker:

“State of Play,” which was directed by Kevin Macdonald, is both overstuffed and inconclusive. As is the fashion now, the filmmakers develop the narrative in tiny fragments. Something is hinted at—a relationship, a motive, an event in the past—then the movie rushes ahead and produces another fragment filled with hints, and then another. The filmmakers send dozens of clues into the air at once, but they feel no obligation to resolve what they tell us.”

“Recent movies like “Syriana,” “Quantum of Solace,” and “Duplicity” are scripted and edited as overly intricate puzzles, and I’ve heard many people complain that the struggle to understand the plot becomes the principal experience of watching such films.”

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