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Francis Ford Coppola’s provoking mystery/thriller stars Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, an expert surveillance man. A routine wiretapping job turns into a nightmare when Harry hears something disturbing in his recording of a young couple in a park. His investigation of the tape and how it might be used sends Harry spiraling into a web of secrecy, murder and paranoia. Set against the backdrop of San Francisco, THE CONVERSATION is a harrowing psychological thriller that costars Cindy Williams, Frederic Forrest and Harrison Ford and symbolizes the uneasy line where technology and privacy cross
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Around every corner is a beautiful shot. The scenes are set up so well with unique set pieces and wholly originally locales from empty hotel rooms to a surveillance device convention to a business executive's office. It's all fascinating to look at with every moment.
Gene Hackman delivers the most reserved and calm performance of his career as private investigator Harry Caul. You are constantly wondering what he is thinking. He is relatable in how human the character comes across as with every choice. He is cautious to the point of being paranoid, but he is also amiable around others if quiet. He loves jazz and listening to those around him. Hackman puts on a true display of complex acting with very little dialogue or movement. He's the perfect private investigator in The Conversation.
A young Harrison Ford delivers a highly believable and threatening performance like no other in his career. Another stand out is Hackman's assistant listener Stan played by the funny and quirky John Cazale. Allen Garfield's amazingly underhanded as the Hackman's rival investigator Bernie. Overall, the entire ensemble delivers excellent acting for their respective roles.
The Conversation can boast the most creative use of sound and voice recordings in any movie ever. The use of audio recordings and playback are played with by Coppola going in and out of conversations. Coppola utilizes the technology at his disposal for unique moments of listening in and spying on people. The subtle changes in volume and clarity are intentional and superbly executed. I am fascinated at how Coppola managed to pull of such a clever use of audio to enhance the movie watching experience. Audiences will be confused then enlightened in minutes as you solve the mystery along side Hackman's character.
The music is beautiful piano from composer David Shire. There are long passages of delight piano melodies to liven up the mood, then long stretches of disquieting silence. The suspense is palpable as loud rushes of piano rhythms will soar into hearing with haunting sounds that generate a worrisome atmosphere to The Conversation. The score is excellent and quite memorable too. It really contributes to the suspenseful vibe that The Conversation contains.
The writing and story is a tale of privacy, investigation, wiretapping, ethics, morality, and faith. Coppola's writing is realistic and quite deep. His topics still feel relevant and profound. He makes Hackman's Harry Caul character a man that must listen in and follow people, taping their lives, and risking their lives just for money. This wears heavy on Hackman's mind as he believes himself a man of faith. It is an intriguing take on ethical questions brought up during the course of an investigator's career. You will wonder whether bugging people is worth it too after watching The Conversation.
I actually don't have a lot to say. The film was very good at almost every level including the music. I would say that perhaps some of the dialogue was clever while contrived at the same time. I like the effect of having the main character cherish his privacy while monitoring the private lives of others. This gives the audience a sense of experience of having privacy invaded while also giving the character a past, like he had witnessed so much personal intrusion he began to covet his own. As a moral point I think the concept of privacy is a powerful one although Coppola didn't play with that very much in "The Conversation." I have only seen a few of his films but they are all incredible so far and this one fits in with the others I have experienced. I am also a big Hackman fan and he was great as usual.
-well directed, some very interesting camera shots
-great and appropriate music that sets the mood well but also reflects what you see
-some dialogue was a little contrived
-the pacing was somewhat slow at times keeping this from the masterpiece I otherwise thought it was.
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This is likely the 1st film directed by Francis Ford Coppola (c)1974.Read more