Would You Like A Little Cartier-Bresson With Your Heartache?
A little while ago, The Inky Jukebox took Little Big Town to task for their clichéd black and white "arty" video for "Shut Up Train." Helpfully, something has come along that demonstrates how to do it right.
Adele's "Someone Like You" is a giant song whom her fans have seen her sing this live in a gazillion YouTube clips and on her own website. From these, anyone can tell the girl can deliver a heart-stoppingly adept performance. So short of simply shoving one of them out there as the official video, her peeps have gone with the storyline approach. The entire video is shot in three clips in a grainy, under-exposed black and white and features Adele, appropriately pensive, walking alone through the streets of Paris, ending at a caf é where we catch a glimpse of the chap who dissed her walking away.
This video succeeds because it remains true to the words of the song: it is a plaintive lament, put simply, which is given to us after the event -- just as it is in the video. All the drama we need is told in Adele's face. Every now and then she acknowledges the camera at her side by looking directly into its lens — and at us — just to make it clear she's aware of her surroundings and of being watched. This places us in the position of silent companions, there to share her sorrow, yet not intrude on it. Her loneliness is made palpably apparent in that the streets are devoid of people (one of the video's best tricks), save for us, which is exactly how it is when we listen to her sing it in our headsets. It's a technique that grabs your attention and your eyes: you can't turn away from her. For the heartbroken person, no-one else need exist but for her departed lover; it's all she cares about — and here, that's the only other person we see. We need not know anything about him so we're not shown anything; he's just a blur.
It's a video that relies on what we already know — namely, that Paris is the city of romance. Hence it is the perfect place to show the other side of that coin, and how cold a place can turn once the love is gone, and there is no color, one needs a coat to ward off the chill.