Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Conversation Review

It's fascinating how little I hear about The Conversation. I would imagine it being released during the very same year as The Godfather Part II is at least somewhat responsible for this lack of deserved attention. The two films aren't similar, with The Godfather Part II being a grand, sweeping epic and The Conversation being a much smaller in scope film about a man hired to run surveillance on two people. The amazing thing that both of these pictures have in common is that they are both directed by Francis Ford Coppola. 

Released in the same damn year. 1974. That's ridiculous, especially when you consider one of them is considered to be one of the finest films of all time, and the other is pretty damn great itself.

Oh, and The Godfather and Apocalypse Now were also both released during the 70's. A pretty iconic decade from Coppola.

Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a man who is paranoid of the very thing he does for a living. He lives in fear of his privacy being violated, his personal space being visited. Is it a direct fear of simply someone listening in, or is it a reflection of the guilt he feels for the work he does and what has happened as a result of it? He locks his doors and he won't take any calls. Harry puts walls up around his life, only living through the tape recorders and the sounds that flow through them.

Everything changes, the fear deepens and an obsession flourishes when they capture evidence of a potential murder on the recordings, and thus a dramatic picture littered with ethical questions and deep rooted paranoia also becomes a wonderfully tense thriller, It's remarkable how relevant The Conversation remains today as even 40 plus years later our world is filled with discussion on the morality of eavesdropping and the dangers of our security being a little too secure. Upon its release it was dripping with the suspicious residue of Watergate. Today it will bring about the name Edward Snowden and the fear that when we send a private email, the intended recipient may not be the only person reading it.

While obviously immense credit goes out to Coppola and the entire crew for making The Conversation such a wonderfully crafted film, the most memorable aspect I am left with when looking back at it is the outstanding performance from Hackman. The way his character felt resonated through the screen throughout, as every aspect down to the slightest mannerisms portrayed an honesty and authenticity that was needed to make the material sink its teeth into the audience.

I think I am going to go have a conversation about The Conversation. More people need to see this terrific film.


1 comment:

  1. Back when "Enemy Of The State" was having it's theatrical run, I read an interview with Hackman where he said he considered "Enemy Of The State" to be an unofficial sequel to THE CONVERSATION and that he played his "Enemy of The State" character as Harry Caul 30 years later.