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As Good as It Gets Film Analysis


As Good As It Gets is a 1997 comedy-drama film written by James L. Brooks and directed by James L. Brooks. It stars Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall, an obsessive-compulsive misanthrope with strong feelings of disgust towards his life. The film’s title comes from the fact that Melvin is “as good as it gets” for a man in his situation. This film explores the relationship between friendship and intimacy through the story of Melvin and Carol. It shows how both can be used as a tool for self-discovery and emotional growth. The movie also shows how people can use their sanctuaries to escape their problems and find comfort within themselves. However, they might not realize it. First, these sanctuaries are often places where they can connect with others with similar problems or interests. This connection allows them to feel less alone even if they are still hurting deeply inside themselves.


The cinematography in As Good As It Gets is a very deliberate one. John Bailey, the cinematographer, used a variety of shots and styles throughout the film: close-ups, medium shots, long shots, and extreme close-ups. In addition, he also changed his lighting style several times throughout the movie to reflect the mood of each scene. The camera moves slowly and deliberately as if to emphasize the passage of time or to convey a feeling of calm and serenity. This is especially true when Jack Nicholson is on screen; his character is not only slow-moving but also extremely comfortable with being in his shoes, which allows us to get a sense of how he feels about them.

In addition to this slow pace, the film’s use of close-ups is also deliberate. The camera will often focus on the eyes of the characters to reveal their emotions and feelings. For example, when Helen Hunt’s character is sad or angry, she is shown through close-ups of her cheeks turning red and tears rolling down her face; this conveys how angry she is without showing her anger. This use of different kinds of shots and lighting style help create an environment that feels unique from one moment to another. In particular, when this style is combined with close-ups and extreme close-ups, it creates an intimacy between characters that helps establish their relationship and show their emotions more clearly than would otherwise be possible without this technique. In addition, the film also uses a lot of close-ups of individual characters’ faces, which helps us get to know them better and shows us nuances we might not have noticed otherwise. For example, we see that Jack Nicholson’s character has a slight smile when he’s talking with Helen Hunt’s character; when she smiles back at him in response to something he said earlier in the scene, his smile grows slightly bigger than before—and this small change makes even more sense when you remember what happened earlier in their conversation

The cinematography in As Good As It Gets also uses many camera angles to convey information about the world. For example, there are shots where we see everything from Jack Nicholson’s point of view, like when he walks along the alley, making very specific steps and skipping the edges of tiles and paving blocks.


The film uses cutting to reflect the nature of the two main characters. The first part of the film, which takes place in a diner and is played out in three acts, depicts Jack Nicholson’s character, Melvin Udall, as he struggles with his OCD disorder daily. The camera cuts between scenes that show Melvin’s everyday life to other scenes that show him in his worst moments—when he yells at people when he compulsively cleans his apartment and has everything in order. Throughout this part of the film, there are many shots of people laughing and having fun at their table while eating pancakes or drinking coffee; these shots are contrasted with shots of Melvin being upset by something going on around him or something that has happened to him earlier in the day like being asked to leave.

Another contrasting cut is seen in Melvin’s and Carol’s packing for the trip to take Simon to see his parents. Carol says, “There is no way to pack for this trip.” This scene is contrasted with Melvin’s situation, where he even has a checklist and has organized everything he needs for the trip. The editing in this movie is very well done because it changes from one shot to another when something happens that relates to the scene being shown.


The use of music throughout the film is an excellent example of how sound can be used to create an emotion in the audience. The various songs played throughout the movie evoke different emotions from the audience and are all quite effective. This is because music can be used to express not only emotions but also create them. A good example is when Melvin takes Carol out after she receives news of her asthmatic son’s progress. The mood in the restaurant is jolly, and the music reflects this.

Moreover, the music also conveys a sense of comfort, security, and familiarity. This is clearly shown in the final scenes of the film. This scene shows Carol finally getting comfortable with Melvin. This is during the 4 Am walk they take when Melvin decides to see Carol. He tells her he is comfortable in her presence and shows her his vulnerable side. They make out and head into a restaurant. The music in this scene plays a very important role.

The use of silence can also be seen as an effective tool for creating emotion within an audience member; this is especially true if you are trying to create suspense or tension during certain scenes in a film, such as when Melvin makes a bad comment in the restaurant. The silence after she leaves portrays the somber mood at that moment. Using silence effectively in these situations helps keep audiences on edge and makes them anxious about what might happen next.

The tone also changes as it progresses, starting with a serious tone that becomes less serious as the film progresses. As Melvin gets acquainted with Simon and takes care of his dog, their relationship becomes less tense. The same happens in his relationship with Carol.


To understand the characters’ performances, we must first analyze how James L. Brooks writes them in the film’s script. Jack’s character is written as unable to leave his apartment because he has a germ phobia so severe that he does not want anyone to touch him. This idea comes from Brooks’ experience with OCD and how it affects him daily. He uses this example of how all people with OCD suffer from similar symptoms but has different manifestations of their condition based on their personality traits and personal situation.

This is reflected in the performance of Jack Nicholson, who plays Melvin perfectly. He shows us how much he cares about Helen throughout the film through his facial expressions, body language, and dialogue choices. His frustration with other people trying to help him shows that he doesn’t have time for them or their needs—he wants them out of his way so he can do what needs doing without interference from anyone else. Carol’s performance as an exemplary and caring mother and her relationship with Melvin is also on point. Her periodic outbursts of anger towards Melvin and her regretting these and apologizing are shown clearly by her performance.

In conclusion, the film is a masterpiece considering the time it was shot. The editing and cinematography have been done perfectly to keep the audience engaged throughout. There are no confusing scenes as the events are shown chronologically. To top this off, the music and sound incorporation are clear and purposeful. It depicts individual moods in each scene. Finally, the cast does a great job acting. The scenes look original and non-scripted. Jack Nicholson, who plays Melvin Udall, and Helen Hunt, who plays Carol Connelly, take the main characters’ roles and do an outstanding job bringing these characters to life.

Works Cited

Brooks, James L. As Good as It Gets. TriStar Pictures, 1997.


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