Texting in Romantic Comedies

Posted on February 15, 2017 at 8:00 am

Kathryn VanArendonk has a terrific essay in New York Magazine’s Vulture about the unexpected asset that texting has brought to the plotlines of romantic comedies.

Cell phones have been a problem for romantic comedies in contemporary settings because they can just about eliminate missed connections and other kinds of obstacles to happily ever after. And it originally seemed that texting, like typing on a computer, was not very cinematic.

One of the trickiest things about telling visual stories — movies and TV alike — is how exactly you dramatize what’s going on in someone else’s head. Oh sure, you can rely on the staid and often incredibly dumb voice-over trope. You can use the language of cinematic storytelling to suggest things about what a character thinks and feels, using ever-popular devices like the close-up, the montage, the musical cue. Usually, TV and movies are usually stuck with exteriority.

Enter the text, which is not a perfect, all-encompassing solution, but does offer some intriguing possibilities for glimpses inside what a character’s thinking at any given time.

Here’s another look at cinematic portrayals of this ubiquitous form of communication.

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