13 Conversations About One Thing
This movie is Glengarry Glen Ross if it had been directed by Robert Altman. It is the kind of movie I like when it’s done right and it’s done right here. It takes a bunch of unrelated characters who are brought into contact because of a hit and run incident when a woman (Clea DuVall) is run over. The subplots involve her best friend (Tia Texada), the district attorney (Matthew McConauhey), an insurance adjuster (Alan Arkin) he meets at a bar, Arkin’s co-workers, McConauhey’s co-workers, a Physics professor (John Turturro) and his wife (Amy Irving). Unlike most films where the story proceeds forward in time or even Memento that goes backward, 13 Conversations About One Thing weaves the stories of the individual characters by moving backward and forward in time. Each time you realize this, it is a surprise because you are so used to going forward or backward. But it is a pleasant surprise because it ties up one more loose end each time it happens.
The cast is fantastic and I really liked the script and the direction. Jill Sprecher is the director. She has directed only one film before (Clockwatchers) but she is good. She wrote the script with her sister. For the cast, I must start with the amazing Alan Arkin. He seems to have been around forever and his acting seems effortless. Among his 70 screen appearances are some movies I love, The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming, Wait Until Dark, Glengarry Glen Ross, Indian Summer, Grosse Pointe Blank, and Gattaca. By the way, if you’ve never seen Wait Until Dark, you should rent it. That movie invented the whole scary thriller genre. Arkin is great again in 13 Conversations About One Thing. Also always great is John Turturro. He plays a very serious yet amusing Physicist. McConauhey is good although he always plays himself. He’s good at that.
This movie is really engrossing. It sucked
me right in. The story and the characters are almost bland but I had to know
what happened to everyone in the end.
Each new scene is labelled with something said in an earlier scene that
relates to the “One Thing.” One
is, “Sometimes Fortune smiles at us, sometimes she laughs at us.” That is certainly part of the message.
You can work hard or not. You can be lucky or not. But it is your choice whether
to be happy or not. After the
movie is over, you can go for coffee and have a good discussion about what you
think the “One Thing” is.