Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres: Drama, Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama, Urban Drama
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Jill Sprecher Jill Sprecher
Matthew McConaughey Matthew McConaughey
David Connolly David Connolly
Joseph Siravo Joseph Siravo
A.D. Miles A.D. Miles
Sig Libowitz Sig Libowitz

7.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 12, 2005
There have been many films to follow in the footsteps of works by Robert Altman and Woody Allen, and "13 Conversations About One Thing" in no exception. Though directed by Jill Sprecher, it is as if it was actually a joint collaboration by Allen and Altman (though, at the same time, not). Alas, it also stands as tribute to both of those men in that it is so skillfully tied together and directed, showing that a new crop of talented directors have found their mentors from years past.

"How do we achieve happiness" is the question posed by this film, though it was posed much better by the stunning 1998 film "Happiness". As I mentioned earlier, I appreciated this film for two reasons: (1) it is a wonderful tribute to two classic directors, and (2) it is skillfully crafted by the director. Alas, a great director with a grand design can't make up for piss-poor performances and lackluster appeal. This is a film about five stories: (1) a middle aged man wants to change his life, (2) an attorney is in jeopardy after a hit and run, (3) a woman faces her husbands cheating ways, (4) a businessman seeks revenge on a coworker, and (5) a cleaning woman waits on a miracle. Of course, these stories weave together and every life in the film is ultimately touched by every other life in the film. This is all done beautifully. I could explain how they were all touched, but that would give away too much of the film.

I can, without a doubt, say that there are only two worthwhile performances in this entire film, and they come from John Turturro and Alan Arkin. Matthew McConaughey gives his worst performance to date, and Clea Duvall needs to go back to wherever in the hell she came from, because acting just isn't her gig. But, despite two good performances, the overall mediocrity of the remaining performances drags this film down into a pit, from which it just can't escape.

While watching this flick, I was reminded of two films especially--"Short Cuts" by Robert Altman and "Grand Canyon" by Cassavettes. Like "Short Cuts", it focuses in on how single acts can change a life forever and like "Grand Canyon", it dealt with the search for meaning and happiness. Those films did a better job of showcasing their themes than this film, though "13 Conversations..." does achieve much as a film.

Overall, this film is moderately enjoyable. There aren't many things wrong with it, but the things that ARE wrong with it are too noticeable to overlook. Jill Sprecher is obviously a very talented director, and I can't wait for her next film, but she just focused too much on a tribute and not enough on character development or strong character performances. You start out with 13 conversations and leave the theatre really only caring about two. 5/10.
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