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Film Analysis Assignment
Purpose: To encourage you to become critical observers of interpersonal communication skills, choose a movie to review from the suggested film list. After watching the film write a 4-5 page (minimum of 1000 words) paper using these guidelines. All papers must follow APA or MLA guidelines, use Times New Roman font, be double spaced, 12 point font, and 1 inch margins.
Instructions: This assignment is to be completed in three parts (see below). Choose a film from the list provided below. Watch the film and write an analysis paper based on concepts covered in this interpersonal communication class. You may need to watch the film more than once to complete this assignment.
In the introductory paragraph, provide the following elements:
Offer a creative opening for the paper that grabs the reader’s attention.
Briefly summarize the film. The summary could include: the title, the plot, and the main characters.
Offer a clear thesis for the essay. A thesis statement explains to the reader how you plan to interpret the subject, tells the reader what to expect from the paper (road map), and answers the ‘so what’ question about how this film can be interpreted using vital interpersonal communication theories and concepts.
Provide an overview of how the paper will be organized that includes the specific concepts that will be discussed.
In the body of the essay, using separate paragraphs, analyze five (5) different interpersonal communication concepts from at least three (3) different chapters that are demonstrated in the movie.
For each interpersonal concept:
Define the concept using the textbook and provide an example from the film that demonstrates the concept. Be specific: describe the character(s) and/or event(s) where the concept is demonstrated and use terms from the text.
Evaluate whether the concept is applied effectively or ineffectively (good example or bad example). Take a position and explain why you believe this to be true. First-person language is acceptable.
Analyze the consequences of the concept’s effective or ineffective application. Consider short-term and long-term consequences to the character(s) and plot. In other words, project beyond the movie. If the movie continued, or had a sequel, how do you think the consequences would impact the character(s).
What does it mean to analyze?
When your instructor asks you to write an analysis, don’t panic. All they want is for you to take something apart to see how it works. To write an analysis, think about how each part of something contributes to the success of the whole.
CAUTION: Make sure that you are not just summarizing the scene from your movie.
Go beyond telling us what you are talking about.
Describe how and why its elements function.
Summarizing = WHAT Analyzing = HOW & WHY
In addition to using theories from the textbook, utilize at least one credible outside source as part of your analysis of a specific concept/theory. Acceptable sources include the following:
Printed or online scholarly journals, reputable newspapers and magazines, and books. Avoid Wikipedia, blogs, or opinion pieces.
The concluding paragraph should summarize your insights regarding interpersonal communication as demonstrated in the film and the major lessons to be learned. Provide a closing sentiment for the essay.
Criteria for Success:
Your paper should be at least 4-5 pages. Use the default margins on your computer or make sure you are allowing no more than one inch for margin on any side. This will equate to approximately 1000 to 1250 words. I will check word counts, so creating bigger margins or using larger than 12-point font to meet page length requirements is not helpful.
Use evidence to support your answers. Provide specific examples from the movie where concepts were demonstrated.
Solid “A” papers will offer a strong analysis that is based on examples and detail from the movie and that uses terminology from the text to correctly identify concepts.
Average “C” papers will offer general statements and vague descriptions from the movie and will lack use of terminology from the text.
Below average “D” papers will simply provide a “list” of questions with short, underdeveloped answers that make little reference to specifics in the movie or terminology from the text.
Be sure your papers are neat, organized and accurate. This will take time.
Here are some theory and/or concept ideas for analysis but not an exhaustive list:
Communication needs

The transactional model of communication

Communication misconceptions
Competent communication characteristics
Cognitive complexity

Mediated communication


Reflected appraisal
Social comparison


Managing multiple identities (the four facets of self)
Impression management

Face needs, face threats

Social penetration theory

Influences on perception

Common tendencies in perception
Perception checking

Stages of the perception process
Halo effect

Influences on emotional expression
Guidelines for expressing emotions
Facilitative and debilitative emotions
Emotional fallacies

Emotional contagion
Emotional intelligence

Emotional reappraisal
The symbolic nature of language
The language of responsibility
Naming and identity

People-first language

Code switching
Powerless speech mannerisms

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
Culture and language

Types of nonverbal communication

Mediated messages and nonverbal communication

Nonverbal messages and haptics, proxemics, appearance
Social norms and nonverbal cues
Listening vs. hearing
Types of ineffective listening

Why we don’t listen better
How to listen better

Listening responses

Why we form relationships

Knapp’s Model
Dialectical tensions

Culture and relationships
Relational transgressions

Dimensions of intimacy
Family communication patterns
Social media and friendship
Love Languages

Romantic relationships and self-disclosure
Conflict styles

Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Collaborative problem solving
Resources: Here are some film ideas for analysis. If you chose a film that is not listed below, you must gain instructor approval before moving forward with your paper.
10 Things I Hate About You (PG-13)

50 First Dates (PG-13)
A League of their Own (PG)

About a Boy (PG-13)
Arrival (PG-13)

The Big Sick (R)
Blue Valentine (R)

Boys Don’t Cry (R)

Boyz in the Hood (R)
The Break-Up (PG-13)

Cast Away (PG-13)

Catch Me If You Can (PG-13)

Crazy Rich Asians (PG-13)
Dead Man Walking (R)

Dead Poet’s Society (PG)
Dear White People (R)

The Devil Wears Prada (PG-13)
Edward Scissorhands (PG-13)

Get Out (R)

The Help (PG-13)

Her (R)
Hitch (PG-13)

I, Tanya (R)
The Imitation Game (PG-13)

It’s a Wonderful Life (PG-13)
Julie and Julia (PG)

The Lake House (PG)
Lars and the Real Girl (PG-13)

Leap Year (PG-13)
Little Women (PG)

Lost in Translation ((R)
Marriage Story (R)

Mean Girls (PG-13)
Million Dollar Baby (PG-13)

Murphy’s Romance (PG-13)
Must Love Dogs (PG-13)

Nell (PG-13)
The Notebook (PG-13)

Notting Hill (PG-13)
Patch Adams (PG-13)

The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13)
Rain Man (R)

Shallow Hal (PG-13)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (PG)
Sleepless in Seattle (PG-13)

Spanglish (PG-13)
The Terminal (PG-13)

Transamerica (R)
The Wedding Planner (PG-13)

When Harry Met Sally (R)

You’ve Got Mail (PG)
Note: When selecting a movie, consider how it is influenced by interpersonal communication concepts such as mediated communication; identity and self-concept; perception; emotions; language; nonverbal communication; listening; conflict and conflict resolution; and friendships, work relationships; family dynamics, and romantic relationships.
If you want to analyze a movie that is not on this list, just send me an email with an argument as to how it is appropriate for interpersonal communication concepts. I am happy to consider alternatives.