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Customer Review

on November 17, 2003
In spite of its seemingly depressing nature I tremendously enjoyed this movie. I believe it is the issues discussed that were able to touch deep and the quiet, restrained way in which they were portrayed. Another reason would be the beautiful ending that does not say much but leaves you with some hope for human kind...
"Thirteen conversations about one thing" lead to very coherent statements about the human condition. Each viewer, so I believe, will interpret what he saw in a slightly different manner. For me however the message was: reach out for other human beings - they are as lonely as you are; kindness, optimism and "looking at the bright side of things" have a power in spite of all and a kind word or gesture have an affect on other people - cynical as they may be; and most important: happiness is sometimes a vague term and is always better perceived at a later stage....
The movie starts with a scene whose significance will be understood at a much later stage. John Turturro, playing a physics college professor is having dinner with his wife (Amy Irving) and discusses an act of violence that he suffered, trying to analyze the horror of it all and find significance and meaning in what occured. The act itself and its impact on the professor are not clear to the viewers at this stage but will become clear later on. This is the first hint to what will be one of the movie's major themes - one event is able to shake a person down and cause a change. An irreversible change.
The movie brings us five human episodes that are entangled to one strong story. Matthew McConaughey is a young, confident attorney whose life changes on account of a car accident he causes; Clea Duval an optimistic kind young woman working as a cleaning lady who looses her faith in human kind on account of same accident. John Turturro is a college professor in search of happiness - in search of the "something" more that life has to offer. In pursuit of such happiness he leaves his wife, who is left to deal with same questions and issues, especially with the loneliness of one person in the big city. However, the most impressive acting belongs to Alan Arkin who portrays a lonely, cynical manager who has a very optimistic, good-natured employee. The employee's ability to see good in every thing hits an exposed nerve which the manager can no longer tolerate. Alan Arkin manages to deliver a round figured person including his many sides and faces, thoughts and regrets, thus forming a very realistic humane figure. Arkin is a bitter father, a manager, an ex-husband and above all a person who down beneath is kind and good, after all the masks are stripped down. Clea Duval is another great asset to this movie, able to touch us with her tender quiet portrayal of a girl who undergoes an inner turmoil.
The film is rich with metaphors and symbols that are not always evident on first viewing. One example would be the professor, Turturro writing the word "Irreversible" on the class blackboard while discussing the notion of anthrophy and giving us a hint to life realities as will become evident to him later on. Once you made your choice, consequences are irreversible, as Turturro will soon understand. Another example would be Clea Duval' s doll who always had one closed eye and suddenly appears with her two eyes open after her owner's inner change, as if to symbolize the new look on life she has. These are just two examples of what makes this movie rich and holding several layers of understanding.
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