"My personal life is not exactly a highlight reel," Eminem says at early in the NSFW music video for "River," his collaboration with Ed Sheeran, which dropped on Valentine's Day -- even though it's the antithesis of everything the holiday stands for.
The video telsl the classic tale of boy meets girl who's with another boy but he sleeps with her anyway and she gets pregnant and it ruins all of their lives. Awww.
The story of the song is framed throughout the music video by interview segments with Eminem, the woman he's sleeping with and the man she's cheating on to get revenge for his behavior. We see moments of extreme anger and violence between the woman and the man interspersed with the burgeoning relationship between her and Em, who portrays himself in the story.
The video climaxes with her reveal that she's pregnant in a segment filmed as if from her fallen cell phone, capturing their conversation in a floor-length mirror. Even though it's been done before, it's a slick bit of directing as the players move in and out of the frame as the argument escalates. Most of Em's tryst with the married woman is shown through a narrow lens as if taken from a cell phone, adding an element of elicit behavior as if captured covertly.
It was so convincing, in fact, that when a clip from that portion of the video was released earlier this week, it went viral with some people speculating that it was actual footage recorded by a girl Eminem was hooking up with. Others theorized it might be an attempt at a viral campaign for this video, as XXL Mag reported.
Also used effectively are slow motion sequences of violence with papers and furniture flying, as well as the prototypical slo-mo singing in the rain. They did miss an opportunity to have Ed Sheeran maybe portray the other guy in the three-way disaster to more fully incorporate him into the visual narrative of the song.
The video opened with Eminem being asked, "What does love mean to you?" He had no answer. By the end of the episode, we can see why. He's nowhere near figuring out how any of it works.