Thirteen Conversations About One Thing - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Reviews

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Robert B.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2015
13 Conversations is an interesting little film. It is neatly filmed with solid acting to the extent that I wonder why I don't find myself rating it higher. Thinking about it, I believe my disappointment is because I had expected that a movie about happiness would be more emotional and more optimistic. Instead, the overall vibe is bittersweet and a bit heavy on the bitter part.
½ February 11, 2015
I was on board for the beginning of this movie, looking forward to seeing how the pieces fit together. There was a little light tinge, mostly generated by the quirky score that lent the movie a sort of strange, supernatural feel. Unfortunately, the score is probably the best thing about this movie, that and the acting.

You know what Ben can't help but like? Movies with weird connections between people, or narratives where one thing unexpectedly triggers another thing, or where the viewer later finds out the crazy reason why something earlier happened. You know what Ben doesn't like? When so much weight and unnecessary emphasis is put on these connections. As much as I'm fascinated by the idea of people's lives interweaving in strange and surprising ways, movies like this and Crash seem to put a lot of emphasis on it in hokey and uninteresting ways. After a while, it's not surprising anymore to see little connections. It has to be understated to be compelling, and this movie isn't understated.

There are some moments of levity in the movie, especially in Alan Arkin's segments, but they're very few and far between, and somehow they never feel bright enough to lighten the heaviness of the other dark things going on. Around halfway through the movie, it occurred to me that there wasn't much I actively liked anymore besides the music, and in the second half, the movie just settles into this kind of slog that I didn't enjoy very much.

Probably my least favorite thing about this movie is how the themes are completely lacking in subtlety. The characters say exactly what they think about life and happiness, and none of the opinions are that revolutionary. Life is essentially godless and random? People affect each other? Time works in weird ways? I don't know, maybe I'm missing some hidden brilliance in this film, but everything seemed so dour and blunt to me. That scene with John Turturro finding out his student committed suicide was laughably bad. I can't be the only one that found it funny, can I? Was I supposed to be genuinely affected when I watched John Turturro stare into the distance in horror at the fact that some student killed himself just because he didn't let him redo his essay? So over-sentimental. Same with the scene with Beatrice telling her friend about how everything is random and things just happen. This movie was the definition of telling instead of showing.

It would've helped if any of this felt natural. Some of it does; Matthew McConaughey is a really good actor, and some of his segments were emotional, like when he cut open that spot on his head again in shame of what he did. But John Turturro, who's generally a good actor (from what I've heard), couldn't help but sound so scripted in almost every line he spoke. No character was ever hesitant about anything. It was just boring monologues, all in the abstract. Most of this movie, I was just rolling my eyes.
July 6, 2014
Matthew McConaughey sure looks young in this movie!! I liked the movie cause I generally like movies where the cast all link together in some way.. but really it was kind of boring... meh
½ April 8, 2014
Maybe this flick had some "profound" philosophical gems to say about life, but it was SOOOOOO depressing, I feel like watching the zombie horror movie I have on my DVR just to cheer myself up! Anything would be a mood improvement over this film. I normally like the intersecting-lives type movies, but this was just like one long Twilight Zone in terms of the terribly ironic. Even the music sounded similar, but used the same refrain over and over until I felt ready to scream. Don't watch this on a rainy, gloomy day, or you might end up doing what Matthew McConaughey's character did. (Warning--it wasn't good.) Why do critics always love this type of profoundly unhappy film?
December 8, 2013
Occasionally I see a film that I believe is very important and should be digested by people I love and/or hope to be happy. This is an earnest attempt that succeeds and does give a view of the human condition and what must be endured with empathy and support. The acting is top rate.
October 11, 2013
Alan Arkin again shows that's he's one of the most underrated supporting actors going today. Give this guy some lead roles.
June 8, 2013
its an intersecting lives movie (if thats a genre) thats dialogue driving and asks interesting questions about chance vs fate vs luck. we need more of these movies, or at least more moves with themes such as this one.
May 29, 2013
It's one of those "everything and everyone is connected" movies. I wasn't compelled by a lot of it, but I could appreciate the screenwriter making all the twisty knots in the script work out. On the other hand all the coincidences were a bit much.
April 22, 2013
quite ok movie! watchable.
½ December 26, 2012
Started off liking it... the acting was good. Finished up not liking it.
November 2, 2012
It's competently made, but pretty forgettable. With a cast that includes Alan Arkin, Matthew McConaughey, John Turturro, and Clea DuVall I expected something better. The thirteen conversations are all about happiness. How does one find happiness? Is it through dedication and hard work? Selfless acts? Or simply walking around with a smile on your face? The interesting part of this film comes with the car accident and the lineage of the storyline. We don't really know if Alan Arkin at work is before or after the bar scene. But it seems like it was used as a ploy to keep you interested because the story itself wasn't interesting enough to keep you watching. Maybe that's just me, I don't know. It had some good elements to it, like John Turturro trying to find what he really wants from life after getting held up from a man the same age as him. Alan Arkin's character was pretty good. I liked his problem of trying to find out what made his employee so happy all the time. He thinks it must all be fake. I guess another big problem for me was pacing. We spend tons of time with Alan Arkin's character that I forgot about Clea DuVall and what she's been up to, and the same goes for John Turturro, who seems to have minimal screen time. The only way he was connected was through his wife waving to Alan Arkin in the end. I understand how he fits thematically, but I don't think he was even wrapped up well. He's just going to always be on the search for happiness until he discovers that stability isn't so bad? Well why don't we see him come to that conclusion? I feel like he doesn't make a single discovery in the film, which makes him pretty flat. The scene where Clea DuVall discovers the man whose house she cleans thinks that she stole from him was pretty devastating, considering she thought he discontinued their services because she wasn't around. Like I said, it's got some good stuff throughout, but I don't think it's enough to really say it's much past good.
August 28, 2012
Written by philosophers this movie shows us how our philosophies (aware of them or not) play out in our everyday relationships.
July 11, 2012
Never lets me down. There isn't a scene that goes wrong. Filled with life and perceptive observational humor. Intelligent and entertaining all at once, a movie about happiness that will stick with you long after you've seen it.
July 4, 2012
first-rate film. Alan Arkin' s character sealed it for me, although I thought Turturro was best in show.
½ June 20, 2012
Very good. The kind of movie I've always wanted to see. Completely seperate stories intertwining, not unlike but far superior to Magnolia. Kind of amazing movie. Not one you see every day. Probably takes influence from foreign film, and yet re-influences foreign film back again.

This is the 2nd best 'seperate stories intertwining' film I've seen so far. Pulp Fiction probably tops the list for me.
½ April 19, 2012
great movie; very thought-provoking, highly recommend
½ April 3, 2012
pisi didn't like it too much. was a little boring toward the end. but Jonicek thought it was interesting. definitely Matthew mcs best movie.
February 28, 2012
Grand Canyon it ain't
January 27, 2012
Good idea, boring execution.
January 19, 2012
I really enjoy a story that pulls me along. This one gave me just enough and pulled it together beautifully. This is one of those you'll talk about afterward.
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