Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001)

13 ConvosDo you believe in fate? Thirteen Conversations About One Thing shows you why you should. Similar to (but not as compelling as) Robert Altman’s Short Cuts or PT Anderson’s Magnolia, the plot weaves four vignettes into one overall story.

Troy (Matthew McConaughey) has just prosecuted and won a big case. He’s headed for bigger and better. As he celebrates with his peers at a bar, he meets curmudgeon Gene (Alan Arkin) who’s irked by Troy’s glibness. He warns him: It won’t last. Troy is riding high and Gene’s negativity cannot touch him; that is, not until later that same night when a moment of distraction topsy-turvies his world.

Divorcee Gene works in insurance claims. His son is a drug addict. He strikes out at his jolly glass-half-full employee to prove that his happiness is fake. Only, it doesn’t work out as Gene expected.

Idealistic cleaning woman, Bea (Clea DuVall) is crushing on a client. After waking up in the hospital on the verge of death, her optimism wanes, but not as much as when she learns that her client believes she lacks integrity—a true moment of loss of innocence.

Physics professor Walker (John Turturro) and wife Patricia (Amy Irving) have an empty marriage. He’s carrying on with another professor. He seems to be on mute, barely alive. When he finds a victim, a students—a med-school hopeful—he unleashes his ire on him, much like Gene did on Troy. Walker will suffer a triple whammy. His robotic wife suffers one of her own.

The characters (many familiar faces) tussle with tragedy. They must react, suffer and rethink their modus operandi before the story is over. Some characters are hard to connect with and the cleaning woman and professor’s storylines are the weakest but it’s a thoughtful study of human behavior.

Co-writer/Director: Jill Sprecher

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 104 minutes

Scale: 3

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