Random characters whose lives collide and carom like errant billiards. Long, still shots of empty streets. Dialogue like ”Wisdom comes suddenly” and ”The mind is its own place.” The genre of Only Connect is its own place too, and a terribly earnest one on the evidence of films like ”Grand Canyon,” ”Playing by Heart,” and Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.
There are deft performances in ”Clockwatchers” cowriter-director Jill Sprecher’s low-budget disquisition on chance and happiness in New York. Matthew McConaughey is a little too thunderstruck as a yuppie attorney undone by one wrong turn, but Clea DuVall’s naive housecleaner glows, and Alan Arkin pounces on the role of an embittered man driven buggy by a coworker’s relentless cheer. Still, this sort of movie needs a crazy grace if it’s to avoid turning didactic – think, love it or hate it, of ”Magnolia” – and Sprecher heads in the other direction with a precious Satie-derived score, title cards that hammer home the script’s minimalist maxims, and a genteel tone of workaday despair. ”Let’s talk about entropy,” says an adulterous physics professor played by John Turturro, and the movie does just that: Problem is, it tells more than it shows. Judging by the title, though, Sprecher made the movie she wanted to make, and if you’re in the right damp-wool mood, you may connect with it too.