Silber and Silber
“13 Conversations About One Thing” is a thoughtful and insightful film
exploring the issue of happiness, or the lack of it, in our lives.
There is a theory that we are born with a level of contentment or
happiness and that this tends to pervade our life experience regardless
of what happens to us.
Our innate optimism or pessimism can influence how we play the cards
dealt to us in life. There are well-documented examples of lottery
winners, after the initial euphoria, feeling as happy as they were or
weren’t before they won, and of trauma victims, again after the initial
depression, who continue to find joy in their life despite being
paralyzed for life. These are not the stories of this film but are at the
heart of the questions asked in this movie.
This film is a window into the lives of 13 people, connected to each
other in varying degrees of intimacy, and how their outlook and
personality affect their life experiences, relatioships with each other
and the choices they make. One’s level of happiness and connectedness are
core issues for each character.
Although with so many characters each must be seen in short vignettes
woven together through the film, we were drawn to each individual as we
watched them struggle with the cause and effect of who they are and how
they approach life.
The cast, all A-list actors, worked as an ensemble, and watching them
inhabit their roles was a joy. Alan Arkin, always a favorite of ours,
does some of his best work here. John Turturro is excellent as a
chronically bored professor feeling “is this all there is?” who can find
no joy or meaning in life no matter what he tries. We watch Clea DuVall
as Beatrice, a basically trusting and optimistic maid. Matthew
McConaughey plays a cocky lawyer who is also the hit-and-run driver that
almost kills her.
The director was a particularly important element in this film and
Jill Spreacher did a superb job weaving the storyline seamlessly, setting
the tone and getting the best from her actors. The script was also
critical and couldn’t have been better written. The cinematography was
beautifully done in dark moody tones. The story is told well by cutting
and mixing the time sequences in an absorbing and coherent way.
All in all, this film is a serious, thought provoking treat. Do see
* Diane and Igal Silber are Laguna Beach residents and avid film buffs