Can movies do a really good job portraying emotional authenticity and sincerity?

The interesting thing about movies is that they are supposed to distill real life. Think of life as a big vegetable then you put it in a juicer. What you’ll end up with is a concentrated form of the essence of that vegetable. The smell would be the same, but it won’t have the same texture. It will still taste like a vegetable but a lot of the details are lost. This is the result of you extracting its essence through the juicer.

Hollywood is supposed to work the same way because, logically speaking, it simply can’t do otherwise.

It’s impossible for Hollywood to portray reality as it exists. You may look at a screen for hours until it ends, and yet, you may still feel that you’re not really getting to the heart of the matter. Can you picture it?

This is how Hollywood works—it uses some sort of rhetorical trick in taking the essence of everyday life and just focus on a spotlight. In other words, you cut out the bland, the unoriginal, the not-so surprising, the ordinary and you focus on the “good stuff”. The problem is, when you edit reality this way, you give the impression that life is all about drama, and that the only thing that matters in your life are those fairly short periods of time where there’s a lot of stress, pressure and do-or-die type of sense of urgency. Keep in mind that this makes a great cinema but it falls flat when it comes to the things that matter.

Don’t get me wrong, these type of editing works well when it comes to action scenes. Of course, you don’t want to watch a movie where you have to endure hours of The Rock preparing for the ultimate showdown with the bad guy in the movie. Instead of watching a truly realistic action scene, you don’t want to invest precious hours of your life watching The Rock doing his laundry, putting on his pants, ironing his shirt, making some phone calls, catching a quick bite of a tuna sandwich right before heading out the door.

You don’t want the footage of him playing the radio, checking his mirror, or adjusting the air-conditioning before he proceeding to the car chasing scene. You wouldn’t want any of that. Your mind would probably say “cut to the chase” or “cut to the good stuff”. This is how the human mind works. Unfortunately, you cannot say the same when it comes to emotional authenticity and sincerity.

This is applicable to action scenes, or scenes involving people killing each other, escaping death or engaging in some sort of dramatic action on the big screen. It works wonderfully in that context. However, when it comes to person-to-person truth sharing and essentially sharing their souls with each other, that kind of editing falls flat. This would result to a lot of translations to be cut out. It’s too easy to think that a lot of the truth has been left out.

And this is why it really takes a lot of work for a movie to accurately portray emotional authenticity and sincerity. Because you will be using neither tricks, nor hyper-inflated narrative devices that exploit people’s susceptibility for quick action. It will take a bit of discipline, and a bit of piecing as far as the movie is concerned. Yes, it can be done, but a lot of work is necessary.