This gem of a film has been knocking around for ages, but has only just seen the light of day here in the UK after festival appearances and general releases elsewhere. Perhaps people are finally understanding what a brilliant indie actor Aaron Eckhart is away from the blockbuster tosh he took on a few years ago. Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2006) showed us he still had the knack for being the fast talking but loveable rouge and here he stars opposition the beautiful and very Englsh rose Helena Bonham Carter in a tender relationship comedy that reflects on past lovers rather than pokes fun at them.
In the dying stages of a wedding reception, an unnamed man (Eckhart) approaches an unnamed bridesmaid (Carter) with a wry smile on his face and two champagne glasses. As small talk gives way to flirting, the two divorcees find themselves the only guests left at the party having discussed their past in great detail. With nods to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), this is another charming tale following a pair of potential lovers through 80 minutes where their lives cross. It adds a split screen gimmic so attention is almost always focused on them by a camera indvidually as they talk their way through the night. As their respective pasts become more and more enticing to each other, they find themselves digging up old wounds.
So captivating and given such attention to detail you will be gripped.
Eckhart makes for an expert charmer, all smiles and jokes, while Carter plays up her nationality with a very English attitude, speaking her thoughts and giving off facial expressions telling more than her words. Their chemistry is obvious from the start as they play out an initially inevitable looking situation to a complex entwining of emotions. The film is little more than the two of them relating their histories and thoughts to one another, but it is so captivating and given such attention to detail you will be gripped by how they decide to reconcile their conflicting desires at the end. Scripter Gabrielle Zevin must have been eavesdropping on many conversations with other women, or had many more, himself.
With director Hans Canosa adopting a split screen style, it gives the suggestion of two perspectives, one for each character, and leaves the opportunity for him to have flashbacks and alternative actions co-exist together onscreen. This tactic fleshes out their back story and playfully toys with us to ponder on what could have been and what went on before. It can be offputting to begin with, but it quickly becomes integral to the enjoyment. As their seemingly silly flirting games play out into this very real history, Conversations with Other Women comes alive with its observations on desperate attempts to rekindle lost love and the familiarity relationships bring to two complete stangers. This is a conversation well worth listening in to from start to finish.