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13 Conversations About One Thing
This fascinating morality tale film by Jill Sprecher is one of the few films made in 2002 that has the ability to make you think. The title '13 Conversations about One Thing' may lead one to believe that the 'one thing' in question is sex or love. But after watching the film it's clear that Jill - and her sister Karen who co-wrote the film - have something to say about human behavior.
Set in New York City the film deals with a group of related and unrelated characters whose lives cross in the most ironic ways. Similar to the great Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski the film deals with the fate and destiny of characters who have no idea how much the dramas of their lives intersect.
The film features great performances from the entire cast. Most especially from Alan Arkin as an embittered Insurance salesman who seems intent on making people suffer with him, Matthew McConaughey as a cocky lawyer who gets in trouble with a hit-and-run accident and John Tutturro as a physics professor who can no longer make a real connection with his wife. The women characters include Clea Duvall as an optimistic cleaning lady who is the victim of the hit-and-run and Amy Irving who plays the wife of Tutturo's character.
The general message is that in order to attain happiness we need to look out for one another and that when we short circuit our obligation to one another then we are lost. The only problem is this message is a bit obvious. No one would deny the fact that if you treat people with respect they will do the same for you.
The reason the film rises about this somewhat simple premise is that the screenplay and direction are both excellent and the structure is anything but simple. There is also an unhurried mood to the film, which makes it quite involving. There is also an overlapping time formation that reveals a fascinating idea about characters being connected to one another not only in space but in time.
The DVD looks very good and presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic. Much of the film has a good use of locations and colors. There seems to be a conscious use of color in many of the scene and it looks very sharp and clean.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds great. For the most part the film is dialogue driven and every line can be heard clearly.
The only significant introduction is a commentary track by director Jill, screen writer Karen and editor Stephen Mirrone. Jill and Stephen do most of the talking and have a lot to say. Each seem to be good natured and down-to-earth making the commentary a pleasant experience.
13 Conversations about One Thing is a morality tale about a group of New Yorkers and the luck and fate that befalls each one. The film features excellent performances and a sharp script making it one of the unsung films of 2002. The DVD has few extras but the movie doesn't necessarily warrant many extras. Now that it is on DVD it is more than worth a look.