offoffoff film



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links

    Top 10 lists

  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies

  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My F├╝hrer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro


    Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

    Thirteen angst

    An ensemble of characters search for the meaning of happiness in "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing," a dry, dim-looking film that's more about clever structure than meaningful stories.


    "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing" is about one thing — structure. Its four interlocking stories rarely emerge from a low-key rut, but the way the film is constructed is a mind-teaser that becomes clear only in the very last scene.

    Directed by: Jill Sprecher.
    Written by: Jill and Karen Sprecher.
    Cast: Matthew McConaughey, John Turturro, Alan Arkin, Clea Duvall, Amy Irving, Barbara Sukowa, Tia Texada, Frankie Faison, Sean Elliott, William Wise, Peggy Gormley, Malcolm Gets..

    Related links: Official site
    The "one thing" that everybody's talking about in the movie's title is the subject of happiness, and yet it's not clear that we've learned much about happiness by the end of this didactic piece. It tries hard to be a great, deep, thoughtful film, and it isn't bad at all but it comes up well short of greatness.

    Surprisingly, a cast full of consistently fine actors fails to breathe adequate life into the film, maybe because the script lacks warmth or maybe because this is the effect that writer-director Jill Sprecher was going for. The lighting is dim, the mood is gloomy, and the ideas are not as interesting as you would hope.

    Even Alan Arkin doesn't fully flesh out his rather one-dimensional character, an office boss who wants his employees to share his misery but is stymied by a subordinate who remains perpetually upbeat in spite of his best efforts. We also have Matthew McConaughey as a stereotyped yuppie prosecutor whose pomposity is shaken when he hits a young house cleaner (Clea Duvall) with his luxury car. And John Turturro barely has a pulse as an emotionally inept professor who's tired of his wife (Amy Irving) and looking for a little excitement.

    If the direction and the acting fail "Thirteen Conversations," at least there's the puzzle of how these stories intersect — and when. In fact, they are only lightly connected to each other and to the idea of happiness, but at least the ending will reward you with a little light bulb going off in your head if you're alert to the clues.

    MAY 28, 2002

    Reader comments on Thirteen Conversations About One Thing:

  • 13 Conversations...   from don kelm, Aug 20, 2002

  • Post a comment on "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"