Wednesday, May 30, 2007


CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER WOMEN is that rare thing - an intelligent, witty, perceptive drama. Even more rare, it is a movie with a technical conceit that adds to its emotional weight, rather than simply being a gimmick.

The plot is simple. Two people who once had a relationship meet by chance at a wedding many years later. They start flirting, have sex and then part.

The technical conceit is that the movie is shown in two separate vertical panels. Even when the protagonists are having sex, they are shown on separate screens. Sometimes, they speak to each other in one panel, while the other panel shows the people they are talking about or flashes back to their previous relationship. Other times, one of the protagonists will play out two responses to the same act in each panel.

The editing together of the two panels - by director Hans Canosa - really makes you think about the interior lives of the protagonists. We become highly conscious about how much they have changed since they first met - physically and emotionally - and the impact their meetings have had on each other. The conceit also serves to deliver one of the most imaginatively shown sex scenes in cinema.

I love that the film uses the split screen to explore the nature of memory, missed chances, and ageing. I love that the script is truthful rather than sentimental. I love the occasional flashes of comedy from Olivia Wilde as an uptight bridesmaid and Thomas Lennon as the wedding videographer. But at its core, this movie is a showcase for the actors, and Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart deliver performances that are brave, incisive and thought provoking.

CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER WOMEN went on release in France, Canada, the US, and Israel in 2006. It opened in South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Singapore and Belgium earlier this year. It is currently on release in the UK. The movie is also available on Region 1 DVD.

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