The following editing technique is used in the opening scene of Friends with Benefits for example:

[Scene 1: two guys A & C are talking]

A: What is your name?

[Scene suddenly cuts to scene 2: two guys B & D are talking]

B: My name is B

[Scene suddenly cuts to scene 1]

A: where do you live?

[scene suddenly cuts to scene 2]

B: I live in France

Actually A is talking to C and B is talking to D, but the director/editor make us feel as if A is communicating with B.

What is this editing technique called?


1 Answer 1


This is basically misleading parallel editing (also known as cross-cutting, though some people make a distinction between these two terms).

Parallel editing is a technique whereby cutting occurs between two or more related actions occurring at the same time in two separate locations or different points in time.

This is often used to evoke suspense or, in this particular case, to mislead and manipulate the viewer by playing with their expectations. Here's a famous (and a personal favorite) example of the technique: The doorbell scene in Silence of the Lambs with some annotations (courtesy of elementsofcinema).

  • 2
    Or, unofficially, a switcheroo. ;)
    – Walt
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 12:57
  • Incidentally, if done deceptively, it's a terrible technique, in my opinion, unless meant humorously. In Silence of the Lambs, an otherwise great movie, the doorbell makes the viewer feel confused and then cheated and finally pulled out of the movie, for no reason but a cheap scare. Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 16:32
  • @Malvolio It's being faithful to the book, though, which also employs a bit of misdirection to keep this moment a surprise. I admit I thought like you at first, but grew to like this scene.
    – Walt
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 17:28

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