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In the story, character A has separate conversations at different times with characters B, C, and D. The film presents this as one sequence, cutting to A for their remarks and then to B, C, or D for their replies, and it all sensibly links together like one conversation. Is there a specific name for this technique?

I found some possibly applicable general terms (I didn't just search Wikipedia, but I couldn't find anything useful elsewhere).

Montage "a series of short shots are sequenced to condense space, time, and information" seems to cover it in a general way?

Cross-cutting "most often used in films to establish action occurring at the same time, and often in the same place, ... the camera will cut away from one action to another action, which can suggest the simultaneity of these two actions but this is not always the case" I am not so sure about?

For example, in the murder mystery "Knives Out", the police interview members of the family in the library room, and we cut between the policeman in one chair and the other chair where the interviewee sits. The interviewee says something, we cut to the policeman to reply, then cut back, and it's a different interviewee replying back to that.

In the script, this is shown with the directions "Cut to: A in the chair", or simply "B in the chair", or similar.

Is there a specific name for this technique?

(Here's a sample example part of the script, heavily edited for relevance. In the story, Elliot is interviewing each person separately, one after another; this has been established by earlier dialogue.):

INT. LIBRARY
Mystery and horror memorabilia scattered on the shelves. Joni sits opposite: LIEUTENANT ELLIOTT

    JONI If I could - pause - because I, who is that guy? And why are we doing all this? Again?

    LIEUTENANT ELLIOTT Right. We're following up here, just being thorough, in order to determine the manner of death.

Cut back to Walt in the chair.

    WALT
    (what?) The manner of death? I can save the taxpayers some money here - Walt gestures vaguely to his throat.
    
    LIEUTENANT ELLIOTT
    That's the cause of death. The manner of death is still pending.
    
    WALT
    (almost laughing)
    So by "manner of death" you mean if he was killed. If one of us killed him. One of his family?

LIEUTENANT ELLIOTT
    None of us think that, this is proforma, all of it.

CUT TO: Richard in the chair. He doesn't buy it. 

    RICHARD
    Ok. So who the fuck is that?

He points at linen suit. Elliott takes a breath.

    LIEUTENANT ELLIOTT
    Mr. Blanc is a private investigator of great renown.

Joni in the chair.

    JONI
    Wait a minute - I read a tweet about a New Yorker article about you. 

    LIEUTENANT ELLIOTT
    Mr. Blanc requested to sit in on the questioning and I happily consented. I can vouch for him.

Linda in the chair.
    LINDA
    Oh you vouch for him...

1 Answer 1

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This is tricky as I have not seen the movie you are referencing (just yet, I do plan to see it at some point) but I get the general gist of what you are asking).

As always, my favorite source for this type of question is from TVTropes

The scene described is a combination of:

When a character asks a question, and the work cuts, pans, or otherwise shifts to an image of the implied answer. This comes in a couple of flavors:

  • A direct question followed by a cut to the answer. (e.g., A character asks "who could have done such a thing?" before the shot cuts to the culprit.)
  • A character makes a significant remark (e.g., "Some people just naturally make fools of themselves"), then the camera cuts to another character doing exactly that sort of thing.
  • Another character, completely uninvolved with the initial conversation, answers the question with a line identifying the answer ("What kind of loser takes a job at Burger Fool?" "Hey, did your brother tell you he got a new job?").

A mode of exposition where the camera switches between two groups of people as they receive the same information. Lines of dialogue carry across the two scenes, sometimes to the point of the two scenes answering the other's questions or even Finishing Each Other's Sentences.

For example:
 *Scene 1*
 "Tom Smith, Number One on the wanted list."
 *Cut to Scene 2*
 "Committed three murders, two bank robberies."
 *Cut back to Scene 1*
 "Considered armed and dangerous."

It seems that there is an interrogation taking place between an investigator/detective (A) and a couple of witnesses (B, C) and they suspect another party of a crime (D?). As the dialogue flows between A-B, they cut to D as their suspect (Answer Cut) and then the scene continues with the dialogue between A-C.

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  • As I said, I didn't watch the movie so on re-reading the script excerpt, I am not certain any of the interviewees (Joni Walt or Richard) are suspects which may reduce Answer Cut section of the response
    – m1gp0z
    Oct 26, 2023 at 15:10

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