Conversations About One Thing
Starring: Alan Arkin, Clea DuVall, Matthew McConaughey,John
Turturro, Amy Irving, Tia Texada, Frankie Faison, Shawn Elliot,
and William Wise
Directed by: Jill Sprecher
Conversations About One Thing is an odd little film. On one
hand you've got remarkable performances by Alan Arkin, Clea DuVall
and Matthew McConaughey and on the other clenched fist the storyline
takes the bright fluffy optimistic wind right out of you! It's
a thoroughly depressing bit of celluloid.
the one thing they are all going on about? Impact. What kind of
"impact" do we have on each other. Whether you hit and
run from a pedestrian or you fire someone because they are a polar
opposite of yourself. Sure, it sounds like a great concept and
thanks to the riveting cast it was completely watchable, but writer/director
Jill Specher (co written with her sister Karen) left out one important
conversation; the one about the little joys in life. Dera gawd
was this depressing!
characters went around spewing pure misery and made you wonder
why should one even bother if that's what life's serving up. Honestly,
every one of them had nonstop gloom and doom in their lives disguised
as day-to-day events. Sadly, you began to realize, many people
do live like these folks. Granted the Specher and Specher dou
gave us one character that seemed to have the whole "life
sucks" gig beat. They served up happy-go-lucky Wade "Smiley"
Bowman the insurance salesman who still beamed with optimism under
his miserable boss Gene's (a brilliantly uncompromising Alan Arkin).
His outlook was that the "cup" of life was not only
perpetually half full but also filled with honey touched nectar
from God. He was a happy man with a great outlook. Naturally his
boss Gene for this disrupting and maddening "attitude"
fires Smiley and we have to now worry about him too. See Gene's
a hopeless squashed burp of a man that causes immediate saddness
to those around him. A human depressant. His life sucks. He's
got a bad job, bad family and bad outlook. Gene has no joy and
wont even open his crusty heart a smidge to allow some joy to
penetrate in. Poor schmuck.
a twist, that runs through the film where the characters all meet
(a presently popular trend in film) and make an "impact"
on each other, Gene meets Troy (Matthew - call Emily Blunt 1-213-555-6765
- McConaughey) the winning attorney out celebrating a sucessful
case. Gene not one to let people enjoy themselves for even a minute,
shares a depressing story with him at a bar. That's all...
leaves and 'impacts' another character's life within our tale.
He happens upon a housekeeper with a sparkle, Beatrice (Clea -
watch for this gal - DuVall), and the two of them collide lives
and spin off into their tales of whoa.
Turturro (who I'd breed with I adore so very much) plays a milktoast
professor who casually "snaps" and changes his life
after a (what we are lead to believe) vicious attack by a mugger.
He moves out on his wife (Amy Irving) and sets up house in a room
with no personality (read: dreary empty crypt). He's having an
affair with a woman (Barbara Sulowa) determined to live life
okay, but he's exactly the same dweeb he was back at his marriage.
Of course that's the point but it gets old, and surprise, depressing.
about plain old everyday life hold a special spot in my heart.
I love breathy conversational pieces and don't require a neat
Hollywood plot or the Murder Solving 101 script to be inserted
to make it enjoyable. When a human piece is done well (think The
Iceman Cometh or in film Glengarry Glen Ross) it's a treat just
to meet the "people" in the tale and see how they live
for a little while. In TCAOT we watched miserable people
live miserable lives sinking deeper into melancholy. Those who
dared to show signs of vibrance or glimpses of willpower to make
their lives better and take one day at a time stopping to smell
the brewing coffee each morning were ultimately crushed by the
stronger meaner, seemingly, heartless, characters around them.
The film made attempts at redemption for the meanies but ultimately
left them unredeemed and plodding along in their self centered
little mental pods. Yech.
your into actors doing their jobs impeccably and don't need a
cheery (trust me on this) neatened up ending venture out and view
this one. Alan Arkin alone is worth the cost of the ticket - BUT
do not go when you're feeling blue yourself, the result could
be devastating as the film doesn't exactly leave a sparkly message
An expensive dinner at a favorite restaurant to shake off the