31 October 2008

Conversations With Other Women

Sometimes a good gimmick is enough. I strongly suspect that Conversations With Other Women is adapted from a play, because it has the weakness that many such things do, namely, ALL THEY DO IS TALK. And have sex, ok, but really, it's a LOT of talking. And not particularly well written talking, too, though it does have its moments. If it weren't for the actors doing the talking, and the way it's shot, it would probably be a fairly dismal movie. Instead, it's an occasionally dull, but nonetheless fascinating film - definitely worth checking out.

The stars of the movie are Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, both actors whom I very much enjoy and appreciate, and both of whom do a really fantastic job in this movie. They're alternately tough and vulnerable, jealous and detached, cynical and tender, bold and morose. It's really, really well acted.

And this phenomenal acting is fully showcased by the creative way the film is done - the entire movie is in split screen, with two screens of action at once. Sometimes, both screens are focusing on the same thing, and really the split is hardly noticeable. Other times, one screen is showing you the past while the other is on the present. Sometimes you get the same event but from different angles. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but it's brilliant once you do. Particularly the moments when you see the same scene from different angles - it really makes you see how much the way that a shot is framed matters. And, related to that, how much body language affects your understanding of a scene (though I may be particularly capable of this because I was just talking to an artist friend of mine, Rine Boyer, about her latest series of works, which are all about body language and gesture). So it's a gimmick, yes, but it's a really interesting one.

I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I think one of the pleasures of the film is the way that it slowly unfolds, so I'll limit myself to saying that for every hackneyed, clumsy aspect to it, there's a moment of poignancy. It's basically a love story, and while it requires a pretty serious suspension of disbelief, I think there's a pay-off in the form of these moments of encounter between the pair that are rendered in an insightful, and often touching, way. I suppose, actually, it's also kind of a movie about getting older - and in a remarkably honest sort of way, quite different from the usual Hollywood treatment of the topic. Though I wouldn't be surprised if someone disagreed with me on this, and they could probably convince me - I wasn't really focused on that part.

Anyhow, all in all, an interesting movie, if not a great one. But definitely worth renting.

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