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20 February 2012

The Conversation (1974)

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola


Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery & Suspense


Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale
Colour, 100 Minutes

Between “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part 2”, Francis Ford Coppola directed (and wrote) this film. What makes it so special? This psychological thriller explores the insanity of one man’s obsession of his own profession as he begins to get nutty over the tapes he finds. It is true the film does not go very far, but it’s isolated sense of having a surveillance expert being a secretive workaholic works very well indeed. Gene Hackman was in no doubt masterful as his paranoia begins to set his imagination wild.


Gene Hackman as the hardworking, but socially awkward Caul is likely one of his finest performances. The character lives in an apartment, which is quite bear, plays the saxophone, is known not to have a phone and never tells people things about himself, even with the most trivial of questions. The character is obsessed with what he does and the conversation that he listens to on the tapes seem to drive him crazy as we see him falling into his psychotic imagination. He is an inevitably lonely man who is revered for his skill, but has almost no social interaction skills. 


The story is quite simple and it is farfetched to have it be based on tape recordings that change someone’s mental state (especially a cryptic conversation like the one we hear), but hey, it worked on “Videodrome” too. Here, the tapes become Caul's obsession, and they seem to have Caul decoding the messages and trying to figure out what the conversation is about.  Francis Ford Coppola was in no doubt exploding with creativity in the 70’s with some of the greatest films of that decade being created by him. “The Conversation~” has a fairly solid story that takes you on a psychological thrill ride.


Speaking of psychological thrills, the film is full of it. Although there may be no big bits of action, the film has you on edge wondering what will happen next. When Caul goes to stay at the apartment in an attempt to listen on a conversation of the two people the previous conversation was of, we get the sense of unease and get sort of paranoid as you don’t know quite what will  happen next. That is a mere sample of what the film has in store for viewing. 


It is clear Coppola is a great director with such brilliant films under his belt, and “The Conversation” shows excellent directorial (and written) craft by him. The film’s first opening shot showing were the conversation takes place right up to the closing scene of Caul playing his saxophone is a riveting experience that may be slow and simple, but definitely keeps you enthralled. 


Verdict: While the film seems like it does not explore far or have many exciting scenes, Coppola fans and moviegoers alike are sure to enjoy this films gripping tension and suspense.


Rating: 9/10


Extra Information
At IMDB
At RottenTomatoes
Age Certificate: 12
Country: USA
Language: English

1 comment:

  1. I have to say, I absolutely did not see the reveal coming in this movie, and that's saying something. Combine this with Godfather Part II and Coppola had one of the best years ever for a director.

    ReplyDelete

 

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