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Friday, September 15, 2006

Anyone who has been in a love affair gone bad knows that William Faulkner was right: The past isn't dead, it isn't even past.

Such is the stuff of "Conversations With Other Women," a misleadingly titled but intricately structured meditation on the morphology of contemporary relationships starring Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter. As the unnamed Man and Woman who meet cute at a wedding reception, the two throw off some convincing sparks during what seems to be a spur-of-the-moment flirtation. The plot thickens, and, during their real-time liaison in the wee hours, all is eventually revealed.

Writer Gabrielle Zevin has an acerbic, peppery tone, especially when it comes to Bonham Carter's pungent observations on aging, and director Hans Canosa uses what could be an irritating split-screen conceit to its full advantage, making "Conversations With Other Women" a rather ingenious experiment in structure. The film ultimately becomes too contrived to be anything but a fleeting diversion, but kudos to these emerging filmmakers for daring to make something a little bit different and, for the most part, intriguing. And props to the gorgeously haggard Bonham Carter for daring to age so honestly on film.

-- Ann Hornaday

Conversations With Other Women R, 84 minutes Contains profanity and sexual content. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.


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