Film Noir Analysis: The Usual Suspects

Element #1 – Dark and Shadowy Lighting

In this scene, Keyser enters the ship and finds Dean Keaton on the seat wounded. The light is dim, making it hard to see Keyser’s face entirely. He removes a gun and points at Dean Keaton, and the illumination turns to the face of Dean Keaton at the deck of the boat. As the light focuses on him, Keyser shoots him twice. After the shooting, he burns the ship, and the fire causes the scene to light up. The whole set does not reveal the face of the shooter.

Element #2 – Location

Verbal and his team were in police custody, and the police were looking for the person that could lead them to Soze in connection with the truck with guns. The five suspects had to repeat a phrase for the police to identify the criminals. The experience was exciting for Verbal. Repeating the phrase made him feel like a notorious criminal. The lighting in the room was bright to illuminate all the characters. He was the last one in line, but the police did not get any conclusive evidence of his criminal involvement. Later, the police questioned every suspect individually to no avail. None of the criminals provided any relevant information. Verbal narrates to the audience in the first person.

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Element #3 – Cynical, Disillusioned Character

Setup: Verbal came into the scene as a survivor of the fire set on the boat. Kujan is questioning him about the criminal network led by Soze, whom he claims to know nothing.

Scene: In this scene, Verbal denies any acquaintance with Soze, claiming that nobody knows his real image. Verbal goes ahead to give a story of how Soze killed his family to convince Kujan how he was not aware of Soze. However, Kujan realizes that the whole story was fiction and his disappointment comes from the realization that Verbal and Soze are the same person, but Verbal lied for his protection from the law. However, Kujan had released him on bond but could no longer trace him. Kujan watched the most wanted criminal walk away, which was a real disappointment. The narrator uses the first person throughout.