The Conversation - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Conversation Reviews

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½ November 27, 2016
3.7/5

The great story and moments are streched out too often by the exploration on technology and the characters that while insightful, makes the whole experience much less gratifying than it should be even for a slow burner.
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2016
A sophisticated and taut narrative in which Coppola does with sound what Antonioni had done with image in his Blow-up, following a paranoid man unable to open up to anybody and trying desperately to put the pieces together of something that he cannot understand.
½ November 21, 2016
Basically a different version of Rear Window, Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation stars Gene Hackman as a sound expert who is hired to listen to and piece together a young couple's conversation and realizes that it is a plot for murder. Gene Hackman delivers an effective low-key performance as the sound expert and The Conversation does explore the consequences as well as the loneliness of people whose sole occupation is peeking into other people's lives. However, it is also a bit too challenging to understand and too slow in pace that it becomes difficult to keep us compelled.
October 17, 2016
Interesting to a degree, but tedious.
½ September 19, 2016
Gene Hackman turns in what might be the best performance of his career in The Conversation, which is hard for me to say since I adore Hoosiers with all my heart. This film is pure genius and he is a big reason why. In the movie he portrays a private detective named Harry Caul who specializes in audio surveillance techniques. The plot opens with him, along with his team, doing what he does best. However, the plot thickens when he realizes something bad might happen if he completes the job and turns over the tapes. The film is quiet, but that brilliantly builds tension and makes every sound stand out even more. It wasn't long before I felt like I was living in Harry's world, and I understood his paranoia. Any time he would open up and talk, I felt uneasy just like him. Hackman really taps into this character's neurosis and makes him standoffish but also sympathetic. While other people in his life see him as rather insensitive or unfeeling, we are given the benefit of learning what has made him this way. The plot has a few twists in it that I thought worked brilliantly, and it made me want to go back and watch the movie again almost immediately. I have a feeling to a modern audience the slow pace of The Conversation might be a turn-off, but I felt so much tension and paranoia throughout that I thought it worked perfectly. If you have not watched this film, I think it is definitely worth trying, because it is a Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece.
August 27, 2016
A masterpiece in every way, Hackman and Coppola give us a thoughtful, haunting and challenging film that leaves an indelible impression.
½ August 7, 2016
Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a surveillance expert who runs his own company in San Francisco. He is highly respected by others in the profession. Caul is obsessed with his own privacy; his apartment is almost bare behind its triple-locked door and burglar alarm, he uses pay phones to make calls, claims to have no home telephone and his office is enclosed in wire mesh in a corner of a much larger warehouse. Caul is utterly professional at work but finds personal contact extremely difficult because he is intensely secretive about even the most trivial aspects of his life. Dense crowds make him feel uncomfortable and he is withdrawn and taciturn in more intimate social situations. He is also reticent and obsessively secretive with colleagues. His appearance is nondescript, except for his habit of wearing a translucent grey plastic raincoat almost everywhere he goes, even when it is not raining. Despite Caul's insistence that his professional code means that he is not responsible for the actual content of the conversations he records or the use to which his clients put his surveillance activities, he is wracked by guilt over a past wiretap job which resulted in the murder of three people. This sense of guilt is amplified by his devout Catholicism. His one hobby is playing along to jazz records on a tenor saxophone in the privacy of his apartment. Caul, his colleague Stan (John Cazale) and some freelance associates have taken on the task of bugging the conversation of a couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest) as they walk through crowded Union Square in San Francisco, surrounded by a cacophany of background noise. Amid the small-talk, the couple discuss fears that they are being watched, and mention a discreet meeting at a hotel room in a few days. The challenging task of recording this conversation is accomplished by multiple surveillance operatives located in different positions around the square. After Caul has worked his magic on merging and filtering different tapes, the final result is a sound recording in which the words themselves become crystal clear, but their actual meaning remains ambiguous. Although Caul cannot understand the true meaning of the conversation, he finds the cryptic nuances and emotional undercurrents contained within it deeply troubling. Sensing danger, Caul feels increasingly uneasy about what may happen to the couple once the client hears the tape. He plays the tape again and again, gradually refining its accuracy. He concentrates on one key phrase hidden under the sound of a street musician: "He'd kill us if he got the chance". Caul constantly reinterprets the speakers' subtle emphasis on particular words in this phrase, trying to figure out their meaning in the light of what he suspects and subsequently discovers...

Francis Ford Coppolaīs "The Conversation" is yet another movie that has been on my to see list for a long time. Michelangelo Antonioni "Blow-Up" (1966) was a key influence on Coppolaīs conceptualization of the film's themes, such as surveillance versus participation, and perception versus reality. In this case itīs not what the eye sees, itīs what the ear hears and what sort of interpretation you get from the manipulation of sound to make out a sentence that lies just underneath other sounds and what the consequences might be from that. Caul is a victim of his own profession and with his increasing paranoia he's now made himself the target of surveillance by the same agency who employed him. The film is slow paced and Coppola forces you to pay attention to all the details. Gene Hackman is as always at his best and his portrayal of Harry Caul is of high standard. Rotten Tomatoes consensus for the film is: "This tense, paranoid thriller presents Francis Ford Coppola at his finest-and makes some remarkably advanced arguments about technology's role in society that still resonate today." And this is as valid today as it was back in 1974. Even more so due to the development of modern technology, internet and the world of computers. Roger Ebert's contemporary review gave The Conversation four out of four stars, and described Hackman's portrayal of Caul as "one of the most affecting and tragic characters in the movies." In 2001, Ebert added The Conversation to his "Great Movies" list, describing Hackman's performance as a "career peak" and writing that the film "comes from another time and place than today's thrillers, which are so often simple-minded." Conspiracy thrillers such as "The Parallax View" and "Three Days of the Condor" came out in the mid 70s as well adding to the genre and "The Conversation" fits in there. Thereīs suspense, an intriguing ambigious plot and ending, great acting and interesting ways of telling the story camera wise and visually. But, I canīt say I was blown away by the film. Itīs a solid piece of film, but not as good as I was expecting it to be. Trivia: "The Conversation" won the Palme d'Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1974 and lost Best Picture to The Godfather Part II, another Francis Ford Coppola film. In 1995, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
August 2, 2016
What a psychological thriller. My nerves were shredded.
July 18, 2016
Easily Coppola's best film.
July 8, 2016
Gene Hackman's character was great but there were certain parts in the movie that were very slow and boring. but i still ended up enjoying the movie. it was interesting to discover that despite Harry being admired by all of colleagues he is not very good at his job. the acting,music,writing,sound, and visuals were superb and Coppola always seems to surprise me.
½ July 8, 2016
Fantastic surveillance flick.
June 12, 2016
Combining the aspects of a crime drama and paranoid thriller, Francis Ford Coppola masterfully directs the best movie of his career, containing not only plot twisting turns and an engaging character (through Gene Hackman's excellent performance), but resonant themes at the same time.
½ May 21, 2016
Not as gritty as Coppola's other films, but enticing still.
May 19, 2016
Richly atmospheric, brooding and foreboding - This quiet film is focused on intricate details and draws you in, if given the chance.
Its a bit like watching the stars with friends, and you get to see a few shooting stars.
Quietly exciting, but sinister and shocking.
Great filmmaking.
Perfectly cast, and embellished by several interesting side characters, the impact is a percolating pot boiler, and the twists and turns are perfectly set.
Coppola's fav film, understandably.
The music is perfectly moody, and was played for the cast to put them in the correct frame of mind.
Fascinating.

5 dark whispers out of 5
May 2, 2016
Unfortunately, it appears with every passing day that the great American paranoid political thrillers of the 60's and 70's, with its strongest work bookended by 'The Manchurian Candidate' (eerily foreseeing the JFK assassination) and 'All the President's Men' (placing a coda of closure on the Watergate scandal), simply haven't aged a day, and are as timely as ever in conceptualizing the palpable fear that ordinary citizens have in those in control of their destinies, namely the police and government of their communities. It's the American ideal that any person born, regardless of circumstances, is in control of their destiny, and that with hard work, guile and determination, can make something of himself. Whether that was ever the case is questionable, but it seems more than ever that the people in power are in control of way more than we could ever suppose, or would ever want to know.

This was a nice smaller-scale film that, incredulously, Coppola was able to dish up in a run that is one of the finest a director would ever have, up there with Hitchcock's in the late 50's-early 60's, and Melville a decade later. It's definitely excellent work by Hackman (along with his Popeye Doyle in the pair of great 'French Connection' movies), and is up there with the greatest dissertations ever about the double-edged sword of surveillance, namely De Palma's 'Blow Out' and Antonioni's 'Blow-Up'.

As a human being, I only wish this film wasn't as important as it is.
May 2, 2016
Unfortunately, it appears with every passing day that the great American paranoid political thrillers of the 60's and 70's, with its strongest work bookended by 'The Manchurian Candidate' (eerily foreseeing the JFK assassination) and 'All the President's Men' (placing a coda of closure on the Watergate scandal), simply haven't aged a day, and are as timely as ever in conceptualizing the palpable fear that ordinary citizens have in those in control of their destinies, namely the police and government of their communities. It's the American ideal that any person born, regardless of circumstances, is in control of their destiny, and that with hard work, guile and determination, can make something of himself. Whether that was ever the case is questionable, but it seems more than ever that the people in power are in control of way more than we could ever suppose, or would ever want to know.

This was a nice smaller-scale film that, incredulously, Coppola was able to dish up in a run that is one of the finest a director would ever have, up there with Hitchcock's in the late 50's-early 60's, and Melville a decade later. It's definitely excellent work by Hackman (along with his Popeye Doyle in the pair of great 'French Connection' movies), and is up there with the greatest dissertations ever about the double-edged sword of surveillance, namely De Palma's 'Blow Out' and Antonioni's 'Blow-Up'.

As a human being, I only wish this film wasn't as important as it is.
April 22, 2016
bit disappointed given the hype
April 9, 2016
A perfect movie. Which is more than I can say about The Godfather
March 10, 2016
1974's The Conversations shows us once again why Francis Ford Coppola was the god, and definitive filmmaker of the 70's because he presents us, yet again, a masterpiece.
This movie is mysterious, thrilling, exciting, yet slow and also sometimes dragging in pace, which is the only complaint i can think about. The leading man, called Harry Caul, as he is portrayed by Gene Hackman, is an expert wiretapper and one of the most affecting, tragic and interesting characters in the history of cinema.
The writing is superb, it keeps you guessing, and the camera work is methodically slow and beautiful.
At the first viewing, you might be a bit confused or 'bored' because you have some sort of a clue what's going on but it doesnt seem all that interesting, but when the final moments hit towards the end of the film, you see the full picture, which makes latter viewings even more rewarding.

The Conversation is yet another masterwork by Francis Ford Coppola
Null
Super Reviewer
March 5, 2016
The Conversation is definitely one of Francis Ford Coppola's best work as well as being very psychological and scary.
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