Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conversations with Other Women

A lot has been written about the structure of the film "Conversations with Other Women," which is understandable, as the screen is constantly split between two camera angles, often of the same scene. I think I would have seen it anyway, as I am drawn to claustrophobic real-time interactions between couples. Think any single section of "Closer," without the jarring jumps in time or logic or lack of emotion. (Apologies for my still simmering hatred of "Closer.") I like Aaron Eckhart, one of the few blonds I find attractive, and Helena Bonham Carter has that whole trashy period thing going so well. I can't watch her without picturing the crazy Marla of "Fight Club," however.

I don't know if I would have liked the film without the split screen, as it gave it some depth that the story probably didn't have without. Moments when a character stops and imagines what would have happened if he or she had done something differently are played out on the other screen as he or she is lost in thought. Old memories are triggered by present interactions and one half of the screen obligingly shares scenes from that past. Who hasn't reconnected with an old lover and had flashbacks to how it was way back then? (Okay, so I have, but even if you haven't, wouldn't you, if it were to happen?) Other times, when one camera lingers on one character's face while the other stays on the other aren't as interesting, especially when they are sitting or standing in a way that would allow for one camera to capture both. Then it does just feel gimmicky.

In such a simple and tight film, some lapses in logic of course drove me crazy: if a person answers his cell phone and sees by the caller id who it is, and then later the other person mistakenly answers this same cell phone, thinking it's hers, and clearly is shown peering at it to see who is calling, why doesn't she also see the same caller id when it turns out to be the same person calling. How does a woman still have perfect lipstick and un-smudged eye shadow (the patented Helena Bonham Carter dark purple) after a bout of frantic love-making? Etc., etc.

But, yeah, I liked it. I liked spending time with these two actors, and enjoyed the way the film looked and how it brought up questions of love and commitment and fantasy and reality. Maybe because I'm getting older and I understand how hard it is to not be nostalgic about past romances, to not wonder what would have happened if only, and to imagine what might happen if we ran into each other.


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