Conversations With Other Women
Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Hans Canosa
*** (out of five)
The man and the woman meet at a wedding reception.
He is flirty; she is flinty. Before too long, they’re deep in a conversation that will see them through the next several hours of their lives — a conversation, we’re quickly led to understand, that is not their first.
The man is played by Aaron Eckhart; the woman, by Helena Bonham Carter. The movie is called Conversations With Other Women, which is written by Gabrielle Zevin as something that could very easily be staged as a play, but directed by Hans Canosa as something that is very much a movie.
Does this sound precious? It is, a bit. Conversations With Other Women unfolds entirely in splitscreen, with the scope frame divided into two smaller boxes.
The man occupies one frame; the woman, the other. They frequently wander into one another’s space, and the two screens occasionally offer different perspectives of the same activity, but the technique is less affected than you might think; it’s a way of demonstrating that these characters, however they might feel about one another, are always essentially alone.
The two frames are usually telling the same story — every scene was shot with two cameras — but sometimes one or the other is used for scenes from the romance of a younger couple, played by Erik Eidem and Nora Zehetner, and the flashback offers a context for the present-day narrative.
That flashback concept doesn’t work as well as it might have, though; certain disparities between the younger actors and their characters confuse the story at key points rather than filling in its blanks the way Zevin seems to have wanted. As a result, neither Eckhart nor Bonham Carter seems to be fully in control of their characters, and their backstory sort of trips over itself as Conversations With Other Women lurches to its bittersweet ending.
That’s probably the point, but it still works against the movie.