What Panic Room Teaches Us About Silent Exposition

I was watching another David Koepp movie last night. And like most of the movies he has written, Panic Room contains an elegant moment of exposition. Meg and Sarah have just moved into their new home, and they are finishing up their pizza. Sarah moves to pour herself some more Coke, and Meg stops her. Nothing is said about why.

Meg then has a moment, and Sarah tries to placate her.

And then she rewards her daughter with more Coke.

Not only is this a moment of character building, it’s also elegant, unspoken exposition. Because this isn’t about the divorce, this is about the Coke. This moment, combined with some artful shots later of Sarah’s watch, and the contents of the fridge, tell us she has diabetes. It’s never mentioned, just shown and hinted at, until the moment when it becomes an important plot point.

Had Meg not rewarded her daughter, Sarah would never have had a seizure, and they could have stayed in the panic room all night. This one simple choice changed her whole story.


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