Review Jill Sprecher was once mugged in New York. The ramifications of this chance
occurrence later set the stage for her film "13 Conversations about One Thing"
which was selected for the Venice Film Festival last year and recently shown at
the San Francisco International Film Festival. Holding a degree in philosophy,
Sprecher's film discusses a basic existential question: is chance predetermined.
It would seem that the film came to be by chance as well, where actor Alan Arkin
who plays Gene, a pessimistic middle aged grouch, put the script in contact with
the right people. Eventually a talented cast was assembled which includes Matthew
McConaughey who plays Troy, an attorney who accidently runs down a young woman
named Beatrice superbly played by Clea Duvall. You may remember her for the
rebellious lesbian in Jamie Babbit's "But I'm a Cheerleader". Duvall adds magic to
the film because of softness to circumstances which are imposed upon her harshly.
Patricia (Amy Irving) discovers by chance that her husband (Walker) John Turturro
is having an affair. A young boy leaps to his death: is it chance or was it
predetermined. Walker must come to terms with the inadequacies his life work when
this fatal accident occurs. Gene is convinced that happiness can not be
free-floating and that there has to be a trick somewhere. He discovers that his
assumption is flawed.
The intricate plot has a provocative and creative narrative structure where the
events which transpire are resolved not linearly but spirally. This allows the
spectator the opportunity to assemble the images and information for in depth
contemplation of the questions the film poses. One which philosophers have
pondered throughout history is "What is happiness?", and how does one achieve
What is clear at the end is that there are no accidents but events which happen
and when they do , how the players turn to meet their fate. This is a thinking
person's film, a visual chess game , which is rare and thoroughly enchanting.
Coming up in the future, an exclusive interview with director Jill Sprecher.
This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International Venice, Italy.
© 2002 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 5/02
13 Conversations about One Thing