Throughout the film, Lee works to complicate our impressions of characters as well as our moral stances on their and views. This moment highlights his use of color, dialogue, lighting, and perspective to accomplish this feat. It does more, by breaking the mold of some of the practices that the viewer may have become accustomed to and embodying a composition dynamic that is novel to the film.
This shot of De la Croix is the portrait of a villain. His attire is striking as it is the first time in the film we might imagine Pierre to be wearing all-black. In reality–as shown in a closer shot of the same scene–his suit is actually a deep charcoal with purple pinstripes. This continuity with earlier moments of the film when he is often dressed in somewhat gaudy purple outfits (including an all-purple suit near the beginning), underscores Pierre’s true fall into depravity at this moment. The purple of his suit likely signifies the purity of his intent. He had hoped for Mantan to truly embody the spirit of satire, as he defines it at the start of the film. By this point, the monster he has created is no longer under his control. Yet, somewhere deep down, he clings to that purity of intention he once had.
The lights and the perspective created by the camera angle amplify this effect. The lighting that actually illuminates most of the scene is invisible to the viewer. It comes from somewhere between De la Croix and the viewer, directly above that central space bordered by the two of us and the two chairs. Although it shines on De la Croix, it only allows us to see his shape. He has the form of a man, but he has no eyes, no mouth, and there is no shirt to be seen beneath the shadow he casts. The two lamps on his desk push the theme further. While they are definitely on, as we may see in the earlier shot of this scene below–as are nearly all of the other lights in the room–the do absolutely no work in illuminating the above shot of him alone.
Sloane asks him “when are you going to come into the light?” She is as direct with this indictment of Pierre’s actions and character as anyone in the film will ever be. She stands above the cold, calculating De la Croix on the moral high ground. This is a difficult compositional shot to achieve given Pinkett’s small stature compared to the towering Wayans. She keeps it simple for him, and for the viewer with her words just before she leaves: “You’re fucked up.”