115 user 80 critic

Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001)

R | | Drama | 5 July 2002 (USA)
2:18 | Trailer
In New York City, the lives of a lawyer, an actuary, a house-cleaner, a professor and the people around them intersect as they ponder order and happiness in the face of life's cold unpredictability.


Jill Sprecher
8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Matthew McConaughey ... Troy
David Connolly ... Owen
Joseph Siravo ... Bureau Chief
A.D. Miles ... Co-Worker
Sig Libowitz ... Assistant Attorney
James Yaegashi ... Legal Assistant
Dion Graham ... Defense Attorney
Fernando López Fernando López ... Defendant (as Fernando Lopez)
Brian Smiar Brian Smiar ... Judge
Paul Austin Paul Austin ... Bartender
Allie Woods Jr. Allie Woods Jr. ... Cab Driver (as Allie Woods)
John Turturro ... Walker
Amy Irving ... Patricia
Barbara Sukowa ... Helen
Rob McElhenney ... Chris Hammond, Aspiring Medical Student
Learn more

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A physics professor approaching middle age decides to change his life with unexpected results. A rising young prosecuting attorney's plans are thrown into disarray as the result of a single careless act while distracted. A woman reluctantly faces her husband's infidelity. An envious insurance claims manager with family problems seeks revenge on a cheerful coworker, but has second thoughts. And an optimistic young cleaning woman awaits a miracle, only to have her faith shaken by a traumatic event. These ordinary people all find themselves asking the fundamental question philosophers have pondered throughout history: What is happiness, and how does one achieve it? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Ask yourself if you're really happy.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


During this film's screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, Matthew McConaughey saved a woman's life after she suffered a seizure. Coincidentally, this happened right after the line "Why do you want a doctor?" See more »


After Beatrice (the house cleaner) gets out of the hospital and goes to live with her mother, she has candles lit on the bureau. Her mother says that they're a "fire hazard" and blows them out; we see her bend down, blow out the four candles on the right of the mirror (accompanied with four blowing sounds) and stand up. When she stands up, we see that all six candles, including the two to the left of the mirror, are smoking; however, she never extinguished the two on the left. See more »


Richard 'Dick' Lacey: I wish, I wish we could see into the future sometimes.
Richard 'Dick' Lacey: That's the problem, isn't it?
Richard 'Dick' Lacey: I mean, life - it only makes sense when you look at it backwards.
Richard 'Dick' Lacey: Too bad we gotta live it forwards.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Shawn Elliott is correctly spelled in the first set of credits, but is spelled as 'Shawn Elliot" in the end credits. See more »


Featured in At the Movies: The Best Films of 2002 (2003) See more »


Put on a Happy Face
Performed by Matt Monro
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
© 1960 Strada Music (ASCAP)
Administered by Helene Blue Musique LTD
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

User Reviews

It's a small world,
13 December 2004 | by jotix100See all my reviews

It's rare that a film by an independent filmmaker can pack such a lot in the way of human interaction. Jill Sprecher, inspired by a mugging she suffered, co-wrote the story in which her movie is based, with her sister Karen. Ms. Sprecher shows an insight that is rare in the young directors starting in the business today.

If you haven't watched the film please stop reading.

The basic idea for the movie seems to be how interconnected we human beings are. This premise is expanded as we watch how all of the characters we see in the film, in one way, or another, share a moment in their existence where they touch each other's lives without even being aware of the fact. Ms. Sprecher weaves a fine web, as she shows the different situations in the movie.

Troy, the self-centered lawyer touches Gene's life when both are drinking, for different reasons, at the same bar. Gene is older and wiser; at the time they meet Gene is feeling sorry for himself, having being "downsized" from his job. Troy, being in high spirits, after having won a case in court, looks down to Gene, a man who he perceives as a loser. Troy's own life will go through it's own turmoil after the involuntary accident where he injures a young woman in a deserted street. Instead of helping her, he flees the scene, leaving the girl to what could be a sure death.

Gene is the center of the story in many ways. We see him as the man in charge of an insurance claims department. There is a man who works for Gene that is the epitome of good naturedness, a real kind person who is always bringing things for everyone in the office. When Gene is asked to reduce costs in his area, he fires Bowman, the man, who according to logic, must be let go first, being the last one hired. We wonder for a moment if this is just a way for Gene to get back at Bowman, because it appears this man irritates him and his coworkers. Bowman, who up to that moment has been so optimistic about things, immediately becomes a sad man.

Walker, the university professor is unhappily married to Patricia. We watch both as their marriage comes to an end. Walker is carrying on an affair with another woman from work; he ends up living alone in a small room. Not only does he lose his wife, but Helen too, the woman he was having the affair with. His life and Troy's meet, if only briefly when he buys the lawyer's car. Walker is in a way responsible for the death of one of his students who is not doing well in the Physics course.

Then there is Bea, the young woman who cleans rich people's houses. Together with Dorrie, she fantasizes what it would be like to live in one of those fabulous places. Bea, who almost died when she was a child, is not bitter about her experience. She is a kind soul who is good to everybody, no matter who. Her life and Troy's become entwined in a second without realizing, or knowing him, as his car hits her in the desolate street where she is walking to the house of one of her employers to return the shirt she has just finished resewing for him. After going to her mother's home from the hospital, we see a gradual transformation in Bea. She's still a kind person, but now she has a different attitude toward life and the bad hand she was dealt.

This film brought to mind Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde" since the idea is basically the same. We humans tend to overlook the relation we have with one another, and how, in some ways, we touch the life of other people, the same way they touch ours.

The acting is first rate. Ms. Sprecher ought to be congratulated in the way she is able to present her story and get outstanding acting by all the principals and even those in small roles. Alan Arkin, as Gene, is amazing. We see in his face how everything is affecting him at all times. John Turturro gives a complex reading of this university professor. Clea DuVall brings such a luminous aura to Bea, that it's impossible not to feel bad for what has been done to her; she gives a subtle performance. Matthew McConaughey's depiction of Troy is good.

There are a lot of minor roles by actors of the stature of Shawn Elliott, Frankie Faison, Tia Texada, Rob McElhenney, Barbara Sukowa, and William Wise, who is perfect as Bowman.

Congratulations are in order to Jill Sprecher who shows a talent for directing real people in real situations. Judging by this effort, she has the potential of going far.

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Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics




English | German | Italian

Release Date:

5 July 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

13 Conversations See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$89,499, 27 May 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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