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UKScreen Rating:

13 Conversations About One Thing – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Walker (Turturro) is a teacher – a very unhappy, loser of a teacher, who gets no joy from his marriage to Patricia (Irving) or anything else in his life. To try to spice things up, he begins a torrid affair with a fellow teacher.
Gene (Arkin) runs a small team in the claims department of a large insurance company. He’s past being an unhappy loser. He just takes his misery for granted and can’t understand how one of has staff, Wade, is always so happy. When times get tough for the department, Gene decides to sack Wade, if for no other reason that to make him miserable, but Wade looks on the bright side.
Bea (DuVall) is a poverty-stricken cleaner and, you’ve guessed it, an unhappy one.
Then there’s a wealthy and successful prosecuting attorney, Troy (McConaughey). He’s happy. That is, until he meets Gene in a bar. From this moment, the supercilious lawyer finds fate turning against him as all these stories start to intertwine with each other.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a film, made up of a number of intertwined stories. It won’t be the last. And it’s not the best, by any stretch.
It’s also not the first, last or best example of a film told out of sequence, but like with 21 Grams, this tool isn’t required by the various plots – it serves more to spice up an otherwise insufficient storyline by giving the audience the chance to feel important when they join the dots.
With the film basically being a study of happiness, by following people who are intrinsically unhappy, it’s inevitably a rather downbeat, heavy-going misery-fest.
However, there are some lighter moments – chiefly in Arkin’s segment, which bursts with the kind of cantankerous, self-loathing humour you’d expect from an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The director doesn’t give us enough light and shade and by chopping and changing so much, she doesn’t give us the chance – or desire – to grow to like any of the characters, which makes it an emotionally pointless film, with the only message that everyone is sad, deep down, and that there’s nothing we can really do about it anyway.

Opens nationwide on 17 June 2005

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