banner image

:: Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

This is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable DVDs you’ll see. It offers not only some excellent performances, but an interesting set of stories that illustrate life’s pursuit of happiness and how things can fall away in a moment's notice or make an unexpected return.

The film covers a series of different tales scattered about New York City. This is not a drama with grand, fierce moments. It is mostly subdued with events and people that seem real. Although some of the stories connect, this is a movie more focused upon building character, atmosphere and substance.

The stories are varied and interesting: an assistant DA named Troy (Matthew McConaughey) chats up a fellow bar customer, Gene (Alan Arkin) about being thrilled at sending a guilty man to prison that day. Gene has his own worries and isn’t amused. Troy continues his happiness out into the night, but is devastated when, while driving drunk, he hits a pedestrian. Although very aware of the ensuing trouble, he drives away and the guilt of what he did continues to haunt him.

This is certainly not a happy film, but director Jill Sprecher keeps the pace moving fairly well and the tone never becomes unbearably gloomy. The film's messages, such as about how we search for meaning and how life hands us unexpected events both good and bad, are offered to the audience not through manipulative moments or heavy-handed scenes, but respectful dialogue and small gestures.

Besides the fine writing and editing, “13 Conversations About One Thing” includes several terrific performances. Arkin is fantastic as a man haunted and soured by events that have happened in his life; not to mention saddened when the man whose life he tried to ruin still treats him with respect and kindness. McConaughey, Amy Irving and John Tuturro are also quite good.

Director Jill Sprecher deserves praise for this film. They have made a film that is consistently quiet yet still powerful and often fascinating. This is a highly engaging, beautifully crafted film that offers stellar performances and interesting ideas.

The DVD offers a commentary from the Sprecher sisters, who are joined by editor Stephen Mirrone. Other than the very enjoyable commentary, all we're offered (some deleted scenes or interviews would have been nice) are a small group of trailers.

DVD Extras

Dolby Digital 5:1 surround sound
Cast biographies and filmographies
Interactive Menus
16:9 widescreen presentation
Upcoming Release Trailers