Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

Matthew McConaughey, John Turturro, Alan Arkin, Clea DuVall, Amy Irving

Directed by Jill Sprecher
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
May 24, 2002

It takes a while for this oddball film — a mosaic of stories in the style of Magnolia — to take hold, but when it does, it grabs you hard. Director Jill Sprecher (Clockwatchers), who wrote the funny and touching script with her sister Karen, separates the thirteen conversations about the fragile nature of happiness with title cards such as wisdom comes suddenly, and my fave: fuck guilt.

There are four main characters: Troy (Matthew McConaughey in excellent form) is a hotshot lawyer, brash and overconfident until he commits a hit-and-run and can't live with his shame. Walker (a brooding John Turturro) is a recently mugged college prof whose adulterous betrayal of his wife (Amy Irving) reveals a deeper unease. Beatrice (lovely work by Clea DuVall) is a young housekeeper who sees the best in people — even the yuppie scum whose apartments she cleans — until a near-fatal accident sours her outlook. And Gene (Alan Arkin) is an insurance-claims adjuster with an unreasonable hatred for Wade (the superb William Wise), the happiest, kindest, most generous guy in his office. When Gene is ordered to downsize, Wade is the first name he marks to go.

Gene's story is the most compelling of the bunch, not just because we all know that happy guy we hate — admit it — but because Arkin is flat-out perfection. That little wave he gives at the end is an indelible image. Sprecher reaches deep into the minds and hearts of her characters in a haunting and hypnotic film that, aptly enough, is a real conversation starter.


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Money For Nothing”

    Dire Straits | 1984

    Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

    More Song Stories entries »