June 10, 2002 12:00 PM

Matthew McConaughey, Alan Arkin

A college physics professor (John Turturro) tells his class, “Let’s turn our attention to entropy.” In examining the random disorder that overtakes the lives of characters in several over-lapping tales, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing presents a shrewd and affecting look at how and why things fall apart—and sometimes come back together in joyous ways. Or, as another character (Clea DuVall) says, “Amazing things happen all the time.”

Director Jill Sprecher (Clockwatchers), who wrote Thing with her sister Karen, creates an elegant, humming beehive. The ensemble cast, including McConaughey as an attorney and Arkin as an aging exec, knows this is quality stuff and rises to the occasion. (R)

Bottom Line: Listen up

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