Posted in 2017, Movies, Writing

Use of Flashbacks in The Whole Truth

The Whole Truth is a movie that was released in October 2016. It follows a defense attorney named Ramsey (Keanu Reeves) as he defends a teenager (Gabriel Basso) who is accused of murdering his Father (Jim Belushi) and tries to get him acquitted of all charges. The thing is that the his client Mike has already confessed to all charges and all of the evidence points towards him. The trial can be nothing more than a losing battle. At least that is how it is until Ramsey learns the whole truth behind the murder.

I watched this on Netflix because it looked like something I would like. I wasn’t wrong. I found something about how the movie was shot and put together. If you don’t want to be spoiled please do not read past this point and watch the movie instead because below I discuss what I found interesting about this movie. (I sure hope the ‘Read More’ tag works on this blog template.)

 The flashbacks of The Whole Truth interested me. Every time a witness took the stand and explained what happened or their relationship to the victim there would be flashbacks which either exposed their lies or proved that they were telling the truth. From Mike being with his Father on the plane, to Mike crouching over his dead father and his mother (Renee Zellweger) standing there with wet hair. As the movie continues it is apparent that the flashbacks are revealing more and more of the truth. It is clear that by the end of the movie the whole truth will be revealed or else the title would be an utter lie.

And yes the mystery is solved by the end of the movie in the fact that there wasn’t ever really a mystery to solve but rather an intricate lie that was woven by Ramsey, Mike’s mother, and the flashbacks. It was Ramsey who murdered the victim as he was in an affair with Mike’s mother.

The flashbacks were placed in such a way that at first it is obvious that Mike did it. Then when Ramsey’s assistant Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) questioned the Mother the flashbacks started to make it look like she was the one who committed the crime. It is interesting how a simple use of flashbacks can twist the truth so severely.

It isn’t until Ramsey starts acting suspicious when Janelle is talking to him in the hotel room, and when Mike asks his mother a very important question that you can start to feel like something is up with this story.

But after watching the movie and looking back on everything that happened in it one thing is clear. The fact that the biggest lie in the movie being what Mike said when he took the stand was subtly foreshadowed through the use of the flashbacks. And even the second biggest lie is foreshadowed.

Flashbacks show throughout all the other witness testimonials showing what the witnesses saw, however during Mike’s testimonial there were no flashbacks which were either showing that he was telling the truth or that he was lying. The same could be said about the flashbacks during his mother’s testimony however the flashbacks returned near the end of hers aiding with the twisting of the truth.

It is clear from this movie that flashbacks when used correctly can greatly aid the writer with hiding truth by holding back on information, or by causing the people watching the movie or reading the book to feel something for the characters even though those feelings are completely unfounded. This may have convinced me slightly to use flashbacks more in my future writing however that doesn’t mean that I will.


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