The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
The man says: "Time really can't move in two directions." Of course, this is not true at all, and "Conversations With Other Women" is a movie that sets out to demonstrate why. In our minds, and in our hearts, time is hardly linear or unidirectional. Visit your parents and you're instantly a child again, and if you all live long enough, time begins to curl back on itself and they become your children. Or run into a certain old girlfriend or boyfriend and you may enter a disconcerting time warp between then and now and some shared future you once envisioned, but that never came to pass.
Here's the situation: Two people in their late 30s -- a tuxedoed wedding guest identified only as Man (Aaron Eckhart) and a bridesmaid known only as Woman (Helena Bonham Carter) -- strike up a conversation that lasts all night. Are they strangers? Do they they recognize (or think they recognize) each other from years ago? Did they know each other at one time, but one or the other has forgotten or is pretending to forget?
"Conversations With Other Women," written by Gabrielle Zevin and directed by Hans Canosa, is a bittersweet meditation on the inevitable adjustments of adulthood. These two see themselves poised uncomfortably between youth and imagined decrepitude ("The memory starts to go after 40"), trying to find ways to reconcile their regrets over vanished opportunities and unfulfilled expectations with the reality of life in the here and now. You might think of it as an older adult cousin of "Before Sunrise" or "Before Sunset" -- a loquacious flirtation, a witty sparring match and a mutually cathartic confession.
But that's just one facet of the movie. At the same time, it's a daring and tantalizing formal experiment, shot entirely in split screen. Sometimes the two adjacent frames show the same thing from slightly different angles, usually with the Man on one side and the Woman on the other. But the divided screen also allows the filmmakers to comment instantaneously on the action in ways that recall the scene in "Annie Hall" where the subtitles translate the real thoughts behind the words the characters are speaking.