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any good movies lately?
and recommend it.
a bustling city, strangers pass each other in the streets each day,
unaware of the tiny coincidences that have connected, will connect, do
connect, their seemingly disparate lives to people they don’t even
know at all. Troy, a
handsome young district attorney, goes out for a celebratory drink with
his work buddies after winning a conviction in a case. He’s just put a
criminal behind bars; convinced that he’s working on the side of the
moral right, Troy feels good about his life, happy in his success. A
sad-sack middle-level manager at an insurance agency sits at the bar
watching Troy, and the two share a brief conversation.
His name is Gene, and as he tells Troy, he doesn’t believe in
happiness, certainly doesn’t buy the idea that a person ever deserves
to be happy. Gene’s worked hard his whole life – dedicated years of
his life to his company, only to find himself that he’s still
under-appreciated by his bosses, that his wife has left him and
remarried, and that his only son has become a junkie and petty thief.
He’s miserable, and thinks everyone else would be too, if they could
only see how capricious and unnecessarily cruel life can be. Troy
disagrees, and buys Gene a drink in an attempt to cheer him up. But when
he drives home later that evening, Troy inadvertently hits a young girl
in a quiet back alley, the accident unseen by anyone else. In a moment
of panic, he leaves the scene of the crime, but finds that the weight of
his guilty conscience changes his whole life.
Meanwhile a cold-fish math professor is mugged one day, and takes
the unfortunate accident as the impetus to change the self-perceived
monotony of his life, while a naďve, kind young maid finds her sunny
outlook on life suddenly shattered.
“one thing” at the core of Jill Sprecher’s elegantly-conceived,
beautifully-acted philoso-drama is nothing short of that universal human
goal: happiness. While John Turturro’s physics professor wrecks his
life because he doesn’t know how to be happy, Matthew McConnaghey’s
hotshot young attorney finds his illusion of happiness destroyed by a
single stroke of bad luck. The sad, sad life of Alan Arkin’s insurance
agent is such a long string of unhappy events that he’s convinced
happiness doesn’t exist at all. Then
there’s Clea Duvall’s sweetly beatific maid, who’s happy without
realizing it, until a terrible accident and the cynicism of someone she
cares about makes her wonder whether she was stupid to have ever thought
that the world was a good and beautiful place to be. Happiness, it
seems, is a strange thing: the more you try and pinpoint what defines
it, the harder it seems to be to attain. Those who spend their lives
seeking it frequently find that their pursuit just pushes them further
from the goal. The fortunate few who have happiness in spades don’t
always seem to deserve it or appreciate it – or when they do see how
happy they are, then the guilt sinks in. After all, in an intricately
interconnected world, it does sometimes seem like there’s just a
finite amount of happiness allowed at any given time, and that one lucky
jerk’s gift of happiness has a tendency to result in some poor
bastard’s happiness being smashed to bits. External
circumstance, the whims of fate, chance encounters – each
conspires to bring little moments of goodness and misery into our lives
in a way that’s often completely out of our control, and yet, we
constantly find ourselves looking inwards for a solution to the
un/happiness dilemma. It’s one of those things where if you have to
ask yourself whether you’re happy, the answer, more often than not, is
no. But does the asking of the question mean you’re unhappy already,
or does any happiness you might already possess disappear once you look
too closely at it? Does happiness even exist, and if it does, is it something
that’s earned? Though it’s lovely to see how the various plotlines
tie together in the end, the cool thing about 13 Conversations ... is
that it brings up a zillion and one questions about happiness and
humanity, but lets you think about the answers for yourself. —reviewed
by Yee-Fan Sun
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