The following nine-page study guide film packet is used to accompany the Bryan Singer-directed 1995 neo noir mystery film, The Usual Suspects. It can be used in an English, film studies, or media studies classroom. The first page contains a list of cast and crew and a background and introduction on the film. The second page allows students to take notes via the formatting of Cornell note taking. Pages three, four, five, and six feature comprehension questions to guide the viewer on the work's acting, camera movement, characterization, cinematography (e.g. angles, lighting, etc.), costume design, editing, mise en scene, plot, sound, story, style, symbolism, and themes. The seventh page contains discussion questions on the work's acting, casting, characterization, sociocultural context, and tragic flaws. The eighth page (my favorite) contains questions that focus on the film's notoriously famous plot twist and provides questions on specific cinematic choices that alluded to or foreshadowed the twist that students can revisit and discuss. Finally, the ninth page is a genre study page that asks students to analyze what choices in subject matter, style/technique, and themes/values the film showcases as a work in the genre of neo noir.
The Usual Suspects is a perfect film to screen as a contemporary film noir and can be analyzed for its excellence in acting, editing, plot vs. story, and voiceover narration. Students love watching it, especially due to the success today of Kevin Spacey on the series House of Cards. While the film is rated R in America, its rating is mostly for language and a little violence that will be tame to most students.