The Possibilities of Narrative in “Usual Suspects”

Roger `Verbal' Kint lights a cigarette
Roger `Verbal’ Kint lights a cigarette

While watching Brian Singer’s Usual Suspects, I was fascinated by the different perceptions of reality from Roger `Verbal’ Kint and Dave Kujan. While the spectator often sides with Verbal throughout the film, he might place more trust in Kujan because of his identity as a policeman (while Kint presumably works in the drug trade). The film’s end is shocking to both the viewer and Kujan, who suddenly drops his mug of coffee upon discovering that Kint’s story was entirely false. Singer juxtaposes a zoom-in shot of the broken mug and Kujan’s face to emphasize his epiphany. Lying in a pool of coffee on the floor, the destroyed mug reads “Kobayashi,” which formed a significant portion of Kint’s lie.

Kint’s incredible narrative which permits him near-total immunity emphasizes the strength of his character and his ingenuity as the world-renowned mob boss. Kint’s capacity to invent a cohesive story coincides with the notion that videogames allow players to enter another world where identities can transform entirely. In Kint’s story (and in his conversation with Kujan), he similarly creates a world in which he is physically disabled and less assertive. Perhaps not surprising due to Kint’s true identity as the legendary Keyser Söze, his ability to persuade both Kujan and the audience of a compelling narrative emphasizes the possibilities of narrative in videogames.


0 thoughts on “The Possibilities of Narrative in “Usual Suspects”

  1. Great post! I think there’s also something to say here about the “Choose Your Own Adventure” narratives and “trustin” the narrator. Verbal’s narration allows viewers to first trust him, and then mistrust him by film’s end. In the CYOA, we feel like we are constantly on the run from the narrator as we try to avoid death and make it to “the end.” I found this tension between subject and audience between these two entirely different mediums very fascinating and crucial to the immersive experience.

  2. I agree^. Watching the film, I also found it curious about how Singer chose to have the same actor portray both the getaway driver and the lawyer “Kobayashi”. Would you say that this simply showing that in all “good” lies there is a grain of truth, or does it leave open the alternate explanation that Kujan’s interpretation of events is not completely true?

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