Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001) movie poster

(2001) dir. Jill Sprecher
viewed: 12/29/02

Non-linear narratives seem to be in vogue with American “independent” filmmakers. It is interesting to watch the pieces of a story, or in this case stories, fall together in the culmination of the non-chronological narrative. I guess that it functions the way that more interesting, well-constructed classically “linear” stories do, in that a sense of closure is ultimately sought and captured in the end. In writer/director Jill Sprecher’s Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, the narrative is not totally non-chronological. Scenes are played out of three or four main stories with their individual chronologyies intact, but the sequences that intersect each story show that these narratives are not meant to have transpired concurrently.

Sprecher fragments the narratives of her four main stories by breaking them into “thirteen conversations,” roughly “about one thing,” which I believe to be “happiness.” But in this fragmented world, most of the characters do not experience this “one thing” about which they talk so much. Beatrice (Cleo DuVall) the one character most apparantly “in touch” with her own happiness, which she has seemingly achieved thanks to a religious epiphany, receives much abuse and struggles to maintain her beliefs. Beatrice seems to be the most clearly sympathetic character, the only one who doesn’t perform an act of immorality, but it seemed unclear what the film’s attitude was toward her religious experience and therefore the world view that she represents.

Ultimately, I think that a lot of the material here is meant to be fairly open-ended. So I do not know. It is, however, a strong film, one worth seeing, if you might be interested.

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