Conversations with Other Women is a talkie movie, along the same vein as Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, as it takes place in one single night of a wedding of a Man's (Aaron Eckhart) sister. He chances upon Woman (Helena Bonham Carter), one of his sister's bridesmaid, and proceeds to flirt with her, in the hopes of getting lucky for a one night stand.
And yes, they do talk a lot, but instead of the free ranging topics as in the Linklater movies, their conversation is focused mainly on relationships, and the games people play, in trying to be coy and hard to get. No doubt the many lines in the movie might be familiar, but they're full of wit and delivered through excellent performances by the two leads, this is definitely the surprise movie of the lot I've sat through this week. If Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy gave us the teenage and early thirties version about two strangers connecting with each other, then Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter provides us the late thirties version in this movie, and more.
The obvious thing that hits you when the movie starts, is the split screen. It is used throughout the movie, so it's as if you're watching two movies at the same time, but not quite. Technically, Conversations is very strong, as it takes balls for filmmaker Hans Canosa to pull this off, not to mention the editing which would drive anyone nuts (for the record, he did the editing himself after his editor gave up, and he used only Final Cut Pro to do what you see on screen - the product gets a credit too with the Apple logo!). The split allowed for parallel narratives to play out simultaneously, for flashbacks and for emphasis, and more importantly, brought out the best in the leads.
Why? Simply because they have to act the whole time through, no shots over the shoulder where you can idle when the camera's not on you, or editing used to cover bad takes or flubbed dialogues, or something that perturbs me - lines said by the person who's back is to the camera, when obviously the movement of their chin gives everything away. Gone too are boring talking heads, as here, you get to see the lines delivered and the reaction from the other party, at the same time, without the camera flinching. In order words, the leads gotta be consistent throughout given the camera is on their every expression. Indeed a challenge which Eckhart and Bonham Carter
There's a separate reason why I would want to watch this movie in the first place, and that's to observe Aaron Eckhart's performance, as he's pulled off many superb character actors in movies like Thank You for Smoking and Black Dahlia, and I'm confident that he'll be able to pull off Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight with aplomb. As Man who's succumbing to the weakness of the flesh, his desperation comes with a reason, only to be revealed in due course. Helena Bonham Carter was last heard in Wallace and Gromit - Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Corpse Bride, and it's indeed high time we see her back on the big screens again. Come to think of it, the last time I saw her in a movie with a substantial role was way back in Fight Club. Here, her Woman is intriguing as to her intent and purpose, and no doubt you will inevitably cast that questioning eye on her.
A word of caution, if you want to be surprised in the movie, don't go to IMDb and look at their plot keywords, as it'll give everything away. What makes this movie work is to go in fresh, listen intently, get blown away by the excellent technicals employed, and in fact, it makes you think all the way through the end, as little details get dropped along, and provides you ample time to piece everything together.
It's not a boring movie, contrary to those who think that talkie movies are. This movie has an excellent witty script, and delivers emotional punches where it should. And the ending is something that will be in your head for a long period of time after the lights come on. Recommended stuff!