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Sister: Josh, are you okay?
Josh: I want to text Laura, but I don't know what to say.
Sister: You said it was an emergency.
Josh: Well, it is. I pretty like this girl, I don't want to blow it.
Sister: Oh, my God. I got it. Okay. "Laura." Period. "It's your stranger from the train."
Josh: (Gasps) Film reference.

Part of the transcript from Season 1 Episode 2 of Man Seeking Woman

The guy (Josh) is asking his sister to make a sentence for a girl he likes. She made a sentence and he was impressed by it saying Film reference. It seems like awesome. What's this meaning?

  • Do you know the sentence his sister came up with? – Peter Mar 7 '17 at 8:46
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    @Peter "Laura." Period. "It's your stranger from the train." (The film reference is most likely Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.) – user42526 Mar 7 '17 at 11:30
  • My husband says, " As you wishhhhh." To us it means he loves me. This is a quote from The Princess Bride, which is one of our favourite films. "As you wish" was all he ever said to her. ... that when he was saying “As you wish”, what he meant was, “I love you. ...." So that is our film reference. – WRX Mar 7 '17 at 14:36
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The first entry for reference in Longman might be helpful:

"part of something you say or write in which you mention a person or thing"

The reason it seems like it means "awesome" is because making a reference to a film or movie is the perfect thing to say to Laura to catch her interest. Josh is basically saying to his sister "Including a film reference in the text I'm going to send Laura is a great idea!" but that meaning is almost completely in the intonation of what he's saying instead of the actual words.

Often, a reference to a film or book is made in a way that only people familiar with that film or book will understand the reference. It's like a "secret handshake" that shows you are part of that group. So, if Josh thinks Laura might like Hitchcock movies, making a reference to the film "Strangers on a Train" and tying it to how they met (assuming they met on a subway train) would make him very interesting to her.

Some other examples of "film references" and how subtle they can be are listed in this article from Vulture which explains all of the references to other movies in the TV show "Stranger Things".

  • So we can guess "It's your stranger from the train." is used in a film? We don't know the movie what it is, though. – Ting Choe Mar 7 '17 at 14:21
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    Yes, we have to guess because it's the only thing in the statement that could be a film reference. A lot of references are made specifically so that only people who know about those things will understand the reference. I will add an explanation to my answer @TINGCHOE – ColleenV Mar 7 '17 at 14:28
  • @Ting Choe No, we do know what the movie is. It's Strangers on a Train, directed by Hitchcock. As far as why that's appropriate here (maybe they agreed to kill someone, maybe she just likes Hitchcock movies) you'd need to look at the rest of the episode or series to understand. – lly Apr 6 '17 at 15:45

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