When a character stops, turns to the camera and speaks directly to the audience, it’s a moment that just commands your attention. Sometimes it’s played for laughs. Just ask Deadpool.
Sometimes it’s to outline the themes of the film. Just ask Margot Robbie, just chilling in a bathtub, and informing you about the financial crisis.
The “fourth wall” is an old stage term. The stage itself consists of three walls for the set. It is assumed an invisible fourth wall exists between the performers and the audience. While the audience can observe the actions through the fourth wall, it is assumed that the performers themselves cannot see the audience.
That is, until they turn and address the invisible audience, thus breaking the spell. THEY CAN SEE US.
The concept was formulated by critic Denis Diderot. The term “fourth wall” was coined by famed French writer Molière.
Bonus prompt: what’s your favorite moment when a film broke the fourth wall?
Next week: ending credits