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03.08.2007

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flick pick | Conversations with Other Women 2005
Directed by: Hans Canosa
Written by: Gabrielle Zevin
Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama
something: lovey, witty
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor (watchability): /5 

Plot synopsis Itís the tail end of a wedding, and as the party winds down, a rakishly handsome man in a tuxedo, perhaps buoyed by too much champagne, strikes up a conversation with an attractive, slightly disheveled-looking brunette in a pink bridesmaid dress. He plays it flirty and charming; sheís wary and just a bit prickly, but decidedly not uninterested. Both the man and the woman (whose names we never learn) are in their late thirties or so Ė old enough to know where this witty banter is likely leading, wise enough to take their time enjoying the anticipation of the what-ifs before it turns into the rather mundane matter of a probable one-night stand. As the repartee gets increasingly intimate and the sparks fly faster, we begin to wonder if these two have actually met before. If so, why are they acting like strangers now Ė what was their relationship? What happened to separate them? Or is all this talk of a possible shared past just part of the flirty conjecture? Soon, of course, the wedding festivities start to break off and the man and the woman find themselves having to make a decision. Should they take their conversation to the obvious next step, moving from ballroom onto the private environs of her hotel room upstairs? The answer is probably no Ö which isnít to say it wonít happen anyway, and that they wonít be filled with regret whichever way they decide to let things go.

Review Conversations with Other Women opens immediately with a split screen showing two slightly different views of the man and the woman in a hotel ballroom. Itís as if weíre seeing things from each oneís perspective, an unusual way of showing the audience whatís going on, and a conceit you canít help but notice because itís not the usual way of being presented with a story in a movie. Indeed, as the split screen continued on well past the opening credits, my boy asked skeptically, Is the screen going to be split through this whole movie? Guiltily, I nodded yes; this had been my rental choice, and I had to admit, the technique seemed awfully self-consciously arty at first. Fortunately, however, as we get more and more insight into who these two characters are and immersed in their story, we rapidly forget about how the information about them is being presented. The split screen actually works cleverly and eventually invisibly to help us imagine not only how the present conversation might look to the two characters involved, but also how they remember (and misremember) the past, as well as different paths each might wish for the near future. In short, itís a pretty efficient way to convey whatís going on, to get us inside these characterís heads in a visual manner rather than relying on words alone. Actually, the movie does a lot with the words too Ė this is a very talky film, with rambling-witty naturalistic dialogue thatís reminiscent of Before Sunrise/Before Sunset (thematically, too, this movie shares a lot with the latter). Itís wonderfully written and full of marvelous quotable lines. What really makes the movie work, though, is the acting and chemistry of stars Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart. They bounce their lines off of each other beautifully; they let their body language and occasional pregnant pauses say as much as the dialogue. Itís the perfect flirtation Ė all sexy and light on the surface, loaded with unspoken possibilities and the potential for something deeper, something more. óreviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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