‘We’ve mortgaged our house!’ is 2012’s answer to ‘You in a trap! You in a trap!’

Friday October 26th 2012

With a few notable exceptions — usually found at the artsier end of the cinematic spectrum — modern movie trailers are rapidly turning into little more than extended highlight packages, offering a barrage of scintillating glimpses at a film’s best moments before letting the audience know the precise date on which they can acquire the connective scenes — and thereby piece together some semblance of narrative order. It’s the marketing equivalent of giving someone the first 999 pieces of a jigsaw puzzle for free and then demanding £12.99 for the thousandth, consummating fragment.

Because of this, trailer soundbites — those clipped little snatches of dialogue that attempt to convey maximum emotion in minimum time — are becoming increasingly cynical, and increasingly ubiquitous. If any of the following lines sound even the slightest bit familiar, you can probably thank the trailer soundbites that embedded them deep within the public consciousness:

  • “I love you Dexter, I just don’t like you any more.”
  • “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
  • “You like pain? Try wearing a corset.”
  • “You were gaming me?”
  • “You in a trap? You in a trap?!”

That last one, from the admittedly exquisite trailer for Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road, is a particularly good example because it features dialogue taken from an extended argument scene between two key characters. This happens a lot, because such scenes usually represent the emotional peak of a big Hollywood drama, and can therefore be quite rousing even in isolation. Stripped of context, however, the lines are often rendered meaningless. Or worse, absurdly OTT.

My new favourite trailer soundbite — and a candidate for 2012’s best — is taken from the upcoming biopic Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins as the iconic director and Helen Mirren as his stoic wife Alma. If you’ve seen the trailer, you should already be familiar with it:

The force with which that title card appears after she delivers the line never fails to send my adrenal gland into overdrive. The way it affords such immense drama to a decidedly mundane statement (oh crivens, the millionaire director may lose one of his many stately homes) whilst also removing all doubt as to which clip Fox Searchlight will be readying come Oscar season, is simply dazzling. Watch it again and tell me it’s not simultaneously the most ridiculous and exciting two seconds of cinema you’ve ever laid your eyes on:

Hitchcock is out in the UK next February and I for one will be unable to concentrate until it’s got the big mortgage scene out of its system.