Here are three qualities of movies that I’m just an absolute sucker for and if you do at least one of them well, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’m going to enjoy your movie. I love inventive and stylistic approaches to shooting your film. I love constant, non-stop witty and engaging dialogue. And I love a good, old-fashioned tragic love story. Obviously, if your movie does all three of these things well, I’m going to absolutely love your movie. And out of nowhere comes a movie that I’ve never heard of that does all three of these things better than any romance I’ve watched since (500) Days of Summer. The movie I’m referring to is the absolutely fantastic Conversations with Other Women, which after just one viewing has catapulted itself into my pantheon of classic romance stories. When the final credits rolled, my jaw was on the floor because of how simply amazing this film was and the fact that I had never even heard of it before I watched it. This is a must-see.
I don’t want to ruin too much of the plot because the film is so expertly scripted and plotted, and the different story threads come weaving back together in beautiful and spectacular ways. It doesn’t matter that I was able to guess the film’s big twist early on because everything is written so absolutely spectacularly well. However, obviously, you need a bit of an introduction to the story if I’m going to convince anyone to watch it. A man (Aaron Eckhart) and a woman (Helena Bonham Carter) run into each other at a wedding. Their is an obvious instant attraction as well as the presence of an as yet unexplained history. The two hit it off and go up to the women’s hotel room together. I won’t say anything else about the story because I don’t want to ruin one more second of the joy of discovering just what is happening in this film.But needless to say, the film delivers an immensely powerful and tragic love story that takes you through countless superbly powerful emotional scenes as well as many beautiful understated scenes to balance things out.
If you weren’t able to tell from the screencaps that I’ve posted, this film is shot entirely in split screen. It was a gamble off an artistic choice, and in lesser hands, I feel like it would have came off as terribly gimicky and forced. However, in this film, it works brilliantly, and as past, present, future, and alternate possibilities collide, this particular stylistic decision is used to perfection. In every scene, the split screen enhances the story and emotional pull of the film. And, in one of the most beautiful love scenes that I’ve ever seen on film, the split screen is put to one of the best uses that I’ve ever witness. This is a “talky” movie. As in, that’s pretty much all that happens. For 90-minutes straight, you watch a man and a woman talk, not quite in real time, but almost. However, this is the best dialogue I’ve heard this side of a Woody Allen or Quentin Tarantino picture. It all sounds so natural and realistic, and I just couldn’t wait to hear more of it. It’s a rare gift for a film to really capture the way that people talk, but this film nails it spot on.
Since this is essentially a two character drama, no matter how well written or how well directed it was, this film would have failed miserably if the two stars didn’t live up to the material. No worries there. Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart both give what, I believe, are the performances of their careers. This is easily Carter’s best work since Fight Club and Eckhart has never done anything quite this spectacular before or since. Their performances are heart-breakingly realistic and once the different layers of the film are peeled away, earlier scenes become shaded with such nuance and meaning, that it blows your mind. Romance in film is so much fantasy that something this sincere and believable tears you up and makes you thank God that people still write good movies. Helena Bonham Carter should have won (or at least been nominated) for the best actress Oscar in 2005. She was so much better than Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line.
This is a grown-up movie, like Chasing Amy or Annie Hall. It doesn’t give you the happy ending, boy meets girl love story that you want. It’s challenging and tragic, but worth every second of the film. I fell in love at first sight with this film. If you can handle a film where the characters pretty much just talk the whole time, you have to watch this right now. I mean, stop reading this blog. Rent or buy this movie. It’s one of the best romances that I’ve ever watched and has joined the elite list of my favorite films. It’s a classic and I still have no idea how it never crossed my path before.
Final Score: A+