This week we’re looking at Emma Thompson’s heartbreaking internal monologue in Love, Actually.
An internal monologue is a monologue that is unspoken (and very likely unwritten). Actors use internal monologues all the time. For example, an ensemble member who has few lines might create an internal monologue for him or herself based on their reactions to the action going around them.
We have internal monologues running in our heads all the time. There’s always some stream of text running through our heads even when we’re not speaking.
Here’s a brilliant example of a well-executed internal monologue from the great Emma Thompson.
Harry (Alan Rickman) has bought an expensive necklace for his mistress. Karen (Thompson) is Harry’s wife. She finds the necklace and assumes it’s a Christmas gift for her. In this scene, she learns that it is not.
Watch the video and discuss these questions. Don’t worry about whether or not everyone has seen the whole movie. Fill in the missing details using what you see, hear, and imagine.
- Why did the writer choose to keep the dialogue silent?
- How do tableaux relate to this scene?
- When we first see her in the bedroom, the camera is far away. Why?
- Also, this first shot held steady for a very long time. Why?
- Why does the adjust the sheets on the bed?
- After she leaves the bedroom, the camera stays for a few seconds on the empty room. Why?
- Why doesn’t she confront her husband in this moment? What does this tell you about her character?
- If you wrote this scene and wanted her to speak when she went in the bedroom, how would you accomplish this?
- Reverse-engineer her performance. Write out her internal monologue from the time she opens the gift to the time she leaves the bedroom.