Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

on September 07, 2001 by Kevin Courrier
   Like film director/author John Sayles, Jill Sprecher ("Clockwatchers") has something of a literary feel for dramatic ideas and characters. In "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing," she creates a broad canvas that examines the paradox of what it means to be happy. In much the same style as the weaving narrative of a novel, Sprecher spells out a number of criss-crossing stories about people in who are caught exploring this philosophical query.

   Walker (John Turturro) is a middle-aged physics professor who has his ordered view of the world shattered by a mugging. He's also feeling a loss of affection for his deeply lonely wife, Patricia (Amy Irving). Troy (Matthew McConaughey) is a young attorney who's happily built for success until an accident drives him into a crisis of conscience. Gene (Alan Arkin) is a hard-working manager in an insurance company. But Gene develops a rueful spite for a cheerful employee with a carefree quality that Gene can never attain. Beatrice (Clea DuVall) is a cleaning woman with a contented optimistic air who later finds herself in desperate need of assurance.

   "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing" gleams with intelligence, and there's also a very thoughtful understanding of human frailty. But Sprecher has yet--like Sayles--to show a truly imaginative movie-making sensibility that would dramatically lift her characters out of the tight grip of her ideas. Despite some nimble work by Alan Arkin, who's a master of the double-take, or the look of profound disbelief on John Turturro's face, the generally solemn tone tends to flatten everything out. "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing" could use a lighter touch of irony because, after all, the idea of life being unfair is as much a cosmic joke as a human tragedy. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Alan Arkin, Clea DuVall, John Turturro and Amy Irving. Directed by Jill Sprecher. Written by Jill and Karen Sprecher. Produced by Beni Atoori, Gina Resnick, Colin Bates and Sabrina Atoori. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated R for language and brief drug use. Running time: 94 min

Tags: Matthew McConaughey, Alan Arkin, Clea DuVall, John Turturro, Amy Irving, Directed by Jill Sprecher, Karen Sprecher, Produced by Beni Atoori, Gina Resnick, Colin Bates, Sabrina Atoori, A Sony Pictures Classics release, Drama, optimistic, desperate, intelligence, human frailty, novel, philosophical query, physics, mugging

read all Reviews »


No comments were posted.

What do you think?