Today: May 23, 2024

The Conversation

Paranoid, anonymous surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired by a shadowy corporation to keep tabs on a young couple (Frederic Forrest & Cindy Williams) and record their conversation during a clandestine tryst in a crowded San Francisco square. But what appears to be a simple case of marital infidelity soon becomes something darker

Paranoid, anonymous
surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired by a shadowy corporation
to keep tabs on a young couple (Frederic Forrest & Cindy Williams) and
record their conversation during a clandestine tryst in a crowded San Francisco
square. But what appears to be a
simple case of marital infidelity soon becomes something darker

Haunted by an earlier case that ended tragically, Harry obsessively
listens to the tape of their conversation, trying to glean hidden meaning from
the recording, becoming increasingly convinced that the couple are being set up
to be murdered, terrified of the implications of one phrase in particular:
“He’d kill us if he got the chance.”
Isolated and alone, Harry finds himself drawn deeper into a corporate
conspiracy that will end in murder, forced to finally take a stand in an
attempt to avert tragedy.

Winner of the Palme d’Or in 1974, The Conversation just missed out on the Best Picture Oscar at that
year’s Academy Award when it went to another Coppola film The Godfather
Part II
but, forty years down the line, it’s still as bleak and austere as
the day it was released, time having done nothing to diminish its chilly power.

Inspired and indebted to Michaelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up
with its themes of surveillance, voyeurism, paranoia, alienation, invasion of
privacy and the unreliable nature of perception, The Conversation is as much a taut character study of Hackman’s
Caul as it is a thriller.

Caul is an introverted loner, eaten alive by paranoia and
guilt. A voyeur by nature, he’s
the best bugger in the business, a technical genius and a consummate
professional. He doesn’t ask
questions, he doesn’t get involved.
He just does his job. What
happens to the tapes he makes, what they are used for, it’s not his
responsibility. It’s none of his
business. He tells himself he
doesn’t care. And yet, he does
care, he does get involved.
Haunted by guilt (his work on a previous job caused the murders of three
people) and quietly desperate for redemption, he starts to ask questions, he
takes a moral stand. His
conscience costs him dearly; his suspicion and paranoia eventually consuming
him, destroying him.

Hackman is brilliant, giving one of his best performances as
the passive, ineffectual, frightened Caul; an obsessive, friendless,
controlling voyeur, simmering with a fiercely contained rage. The true star of the film however
is Walter Murch’s sound design for
which he deservedly won an Oscar.
From it’s intricate opening to Harry’s tinkering with his tapes to even
the flapping of Harry’s plastic mac, The
Conversation
’s innovative use of sound immerses you in the film and Harry’s
world, becoming both a character and a weapon.

Taut, bleak, ambiguous and quietly terrifying with a killer
twist and a devastating ending, The
Conversation
is a film that, like Harry’s paranoia, gets under your skin
and eats at you.

To Buy The Conversation On Blu-Ray Click Here

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

Previous Story

The Outsiders

Next Story

Contraband

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

The Iron Claw

The Iron Claw director Sean Durkin is a strangely below the radar filmmaker. When he really shouldn’t be. His first two features, Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Nest are both of

Once Upon a Time in the West Unboxing

Just two years after Spaghetti Western pioneer Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly made history in 1966, the celebrated moviemaking maestro put out another masterpiece and one that –

May December

Taking the case of Mary Kay Letourneau – a convicted sex offender who ended up marrying her victim after she was released from prison – as inspiration, May December weaves a mysterious,
Go toTop