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|Conversations With Other Women
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Hans Canosa
scr Gabrielle Zevin
with Aaron Eckhart, Helena Bonham Carter, Erik Eidem, Nora Zehetner, Olivia Wilde, Thomas Lennon, Cerina Vincent, Philip Littell, Brianna Brown, Brian Geraghty, Yury Tsykun, David Franklin
release US 11.Aug.06,
You've changed: Eckhart and Bonham Carter
Canosa demonstrates a playful and inventive filmmaking style with this insightful story of a relationship told from various perspectives--male and female, past and present--all at the same time.
When a man and woman (Eckhart and Bonham Carter) meet at a wedding, their flirtation reveals a past relationship between them (Eidem and Zehetner in flashbacks), as well as new current partners (Vincent and Littell in cutaways). They haven't seen each other in nearly a decade, so they have a lot of catching up to do. And the embers of their distant romance haven't quite died. While the man is still boyish and a bit reckless, the woman is a very different person than she was.
Shot in a split-screen format, with two cameras on each scene, we see the entire story from both points of view, dipping tantalisingly into the past and an alternate present to reveal telling details about each character. And it's clear that Canosa has carefully planned each shot, because there's nothing random about it--the two images fit together gorgeously, mirroring the angles and splitting single shots with intriguing results. This is a fully accessible romance--never arty, frequently hilarious and sexy, and also very emotional.
Eckhart and Bonham Carter are relaxed and raw, inhabiting the skin of these two people in ways that let us slowly in, revealing thoughts and feelings, bouncing off each other meaningfully, thoroughly engaging us even when their characters turn petulant or evasive. Wilde and Lennon have hilarious one-scene roles, while the other actors exist almost wordlessly, adding texture and insight. And lots of emotional resonance.
This is a sharp dissection of a relationship, with honest touches of hope and regret. The linear narrative and stream of conversation is similar to Before Sunset, looking at "the illusion of effortlessness" and how difficult it is to find true happiness. The dialog is sometimes far too clever and faux-flippant for its own good, losing the natural rhythms in order to say something insistently profound. But the tone is lively and smart, with lovely offhanded touches ("You used to be so thin!"). And Canosa's directorial skill is astonishing. Keep an eye on him.
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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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