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13 Conversations About One Thing
cast: Alan Arkin, Amy Irving, John Turturro, Matthew McConaughey, and Clea Duvall

director: Jill Sprecher

99 minutes (15) 2005
widescreen ratio 16:9
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Bob Neilson
Early on in this film the character played by Alan Arkin says, "Fortune smiles on some and laughs at some others." And this may the one thing of the title. Or not. Because the 13 scenes presented, though linked through offhand meetings between the characters. Seemed to me extremely diverse in subject matter. As with all the best films, the subject matter is of course the human condition.

Matthew McConaughey gives an assured and confident portrayal of a yuppie lawyer who believes he is right. He has no doubts that he is, and will remain, one of those upon whom fortune smiles. It is to him that Alan Arkin speaks his sage words and it seems inevitable that it is he who will also hear the laughter. On his way home from the bar where he has met Alan Arkin he is involved in a hit and run in the BMW his father gave him.

Arkin works in an insurance company, and is divorced from his wife. He's lost touch with his junkie son, and is as thoroughly unhappy and cynical as you could imagine a man in the full of his health to be. Clea Duvall works cleaning expensive apartments and has a budding relationship (in her head at least) with one of her clients. She offers to take home his shirt to sew it and on her way to return it meets with an accident.

John Turturro and Amy Irving play an unhappily married couple. Turturro has found his life changed after being assaulted. What he cannot reconcile with his worldview is that his attacker was not some drug-crazed teenager but a middle-aged man just like himself. When Turturro moves out of home to fulfil an affair with a colleague whose sick husband can no longer satisfy her needs, Irving simply moves, leaving his belongings to be collected by a charity.

The 13 scenes are beautifully observed, the cast are excellent throughout and the fractured timeframe utilised by Sprecher affords the viewer several different perspectives on the key incidents, to wonderful effect. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it unreservedly to anyone who has the patience to appreciate its gentle pace and thoughtful delivery.

DVD extras are harmless, featuring a trailer and a director's commentary track.

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