Dialogue is not exactly cinematic. It’s just people talking to each other, and it’s not always fun to watch either, since it’s often just words spewed to further the plot. But what makes some dialogue scenes so much better than others? Is it good dialogue like a real conversation?
Nope. Dialogue should seem real on the surface, but it also needs to reveal things about who the character is, who they’ll become, and what point they’re trying to do. In dialogue, it’s all about the character.
Channel Criswell goes deep into dialogue in movies and starts with that wonderful opening scene in The Social Network where you pretty much find out everything you need to know about that movie’s version of Mark Zuckerberg. In that one opening scene, you find out he’s a genius, that he’s socially awkward, that he’s an asshole, and that he’s obsessed with success. It’s a dialogue scene that richly details the character and reveals his motivation for everything that’s about to happen. It’s great.
Check out the rest of the video essay, which explains the difference between functional dialogue and great dialogue.