But the third effect of shooting singles this way... is environmental.
Shots like this have a nice balance between the character and everything around her.
"I'd be very surprised if our suspect was from Brainerd."
And it helps us get a quick read on very minor characters.
Think about how well you know this woman just from her clothes and her workspace.
"We can't give out no information."
But what really distinguishes the Coens is the rhythm of their editing.
"We depress the stock."
"To the point where we can buy 50%."
"Not counting the mezzanine."
"It could work!"
"It should work!"
"It would work!"
"It's working already!"
Many people think the rhythm comes from their dialogue.
But the rhythm is actually nonverbal.
Sometimes, to feel the rhythm, you have to see it done badly.
This is a film they wrote but didn't direct.
Watch the awkward pause between two lines of dialogue.
"Not that I judge."
"How terribly interesting."
"But is there a tournament of some description with rowdy goings on?"
It just feels "off".
Now watch this moment, directed by them.
And this rhythm is what underlies so many of their scenes and it's how they find nonverbal moments that other directors don't look for.
But what do all these choices add up to?
I think it creates a particular tone.
Because on one level, the Coens want you to laugh at these people.
After all, they use the wide lens to exaggerate the face and they time the scene for humor.
But on another level, the Coens want you to empathize with these characters.
They frame wide enough so you can see the environment and they put the lens right next to people at their lowest point.
"I am dying."
There's an old saying: Tragedy is a closeup. Comedy is a long shot.
But for the Coens those distinctions are jumbled.
They play both tragedy and comedy in intimate singles.
"I miss Mike."
And that's the fascinating thing.
Because dialogue scenes aren't just about recording the dialogue.
They're also about the nonverbal behavior.
"I don't guess this means much to you."
"Hell yeah, I could tell you some stories..."
"And that's the point!"
"That we all have stories."
And by placing the camera here, using a wide lens, and following their particular rhythm the Coens have found an interesting approach to the most basic tool.