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Narration in “The Five-Year Engagement” Film Report


Narration is an important part of any storytelling, and it is always present in movies. A particular movie titled The Five-Year Engagement is directed by Nicholas Stoller and is produced by Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman, and Nicholas Stoller. It is a comedy with some romance which centers on a couple who have difficulty organizing their life in order to get married. The difficulties come from all directions, including personal problems and relatives (Apatow, 2012).


From the very beginning, the signs of narration are obvious. Narrative form is organized and linked in a chain of events and in the opening scenes, Tom Solomon starts telling a story of how himself and his fiancé, Violet Barnes, have met a year ago. A time and space effect is created through the flashback, and it is possible to see how the two characters were different and yet, very much the same. The cause and effect are a large part of any narration and so, it is clear how being at a party and glimpsing over at each other is the cause of the relationship to begin. The order of events is clearly outlined from the start, and the viewer fills in all the events that took place within the year of the couple dating. The flashback in time is a separation from the main story, as it disrupts the chronological order of events. It is worth mentioning that sometimes, some details about the story are hidden, only to be shown or revealed later. This is not the case here, as the viewer is presented with the first meeting of the couple. It must be noted that the flashback and the events described have somewhat of a mixed duration (Bordwell & Thompson, 2010). Even though it a quick recollection of past events, some parts of the narrative, specifically the first words the characters exchange, are slowed down, so that the viewer can feel the effect of the couple’s pause in time.

Another important part of the narration is the frequency or repetition of certain events or scenes. A comedic effect is made with the high number of repetitions in the pictures of Tom’s previous girlfriends. The past is being narrated in a great number of images from the past, and again, the viewer fills up the character’s past with numerous events. Space is also included in the narration, as creates a specific atmosphere with its connection to the scene (Bordwell & Thompson, 2010). The engagement party for Tom and Violet is set in a backyard, and even though there is a lot of space, the chairs and guests are positioned very closely together. This tells the audience that the family is close, but an interesting twist takes place when people start speaking. It is made obvious that even though people are seated very closely there are parts of their lives that are unknown and unfamiliar to each other. This distances the characters, even though the physical location is close. The whole beginning of the movie is an opening scene; as the viewer does not yet know where the story will go and what troubles the characters will experience. The development of the plot takes place in a positive narration with the couple getting ready to be married.

In a wider and more general sense, narration consists of events that create a flow but are separate from each other in the story. Even though they are all a part of the plot, the division gives the audience a sense of time passage. When Tom and Violet decide to postpone the wedding and move to Michigan, it can be seen as the first major chain of events. The wedding of Violet’s sister and the death of the grandmother was comparatively minor in the story because the couple would still stay in their town. The move is the major change in the narrative, and a whole different setting emerges. Even though the narration takes place in a different location there is some repetition of the events. When the professor meets Tom and violet, he asks them to tell a story of how they met.

The viewer is then presented with a repetition of a flashback in time. But, the narrator is changed; whereas previously it was Tom telling the story of their meeting, here, Violet also includes herself in the narration which adds a sense of togetherness. With the further progression of the movie, events change very rapidly and narration is very much different from the beginning of the story. At the start of the movie, it was happy and flowed easily, but towards the end, the narration becomes more jagged and nervous, as the couple is shown to drift apart. The ending returns to the start of the movie where Tom and Violet are happy together and this makes the story continuous. The climax of the story is also towards the end, as the audience wonders if the couple will stay together, and this adds suspense to the narration.


In conclusion, the movie had many forms of narration, and the interchange of styles added a unique twist to the events. The movie is recommended to all who enjoy comedy with romance.


Apatow, J. (Executive Producer). (2012). The Five-Year Engagement [DVD]. Universal City: Universal Pictures.

Bordwell, D., & Thompson, K. (2010). Film art: an introduction. New York: McGraw Hill.

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"Narration in "The Five-Year Engagement" Film." IvyPanda, 10 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/narration-in-the-five-year-engagement-film/.

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IvyPanda. "Narration in "The Five-Year Engagement" Film." October 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/narration-in-the-five-year-engagement-film/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Narration in "The Five-Year Engagement" Film." October 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/narration-in-the-five-year-engagement-film/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Narration in "The Five-Year Engagement" Film'. 10 October.

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