The Conversation - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Conversation Reviews

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January 14, 2016
The Conversation Is A Low-Budget Art House Style Project Directed Francis Ford Coppola. The Conversation Is An Excellently Directed Crime Drama Which Delivers An Overly Long Build Up Of Suspense Which Thankfully Pays Off. The Film Boasts Some Great Performances From Hackman, & An Equally Entertaining Performance From (Then Rising Star) Harrison Ford. Made Between The Godfather Parts 1 & 2, Coppola Returns To His Art House Roots In This Homage To Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966).
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2016
Ahhhh ... just because yer paranoid don't mean they're not out to get you, eh? Yes, yes, yes ...
January 2, 2016
Never expected something like this from Coppola.
You have to watch this at least a few times..
½ December 31, 2015
Francis Ford Coppola is one of the greatest classical directors of our time. He is most known for his Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now. "The Conversation" is a crime thriller directed by Coppola, and stars Gene Hackman and Harrison Ford.

Harry Caul (Hackman) is a surveillance specialist who works for privatized companies. Using his equipment to spy on people's conversations, Caul is hired by a mysterious client (Ford) who has him tail a young couple. While going through the recorded material, Caul hears the subjects discussing that they may be in danger. Fearing he may have just participated in something terrible, Caul struggles within.

In most of his films, Gene Hackman is pretty energized. In this film, Hackman gives a shockingly reserved and subdued performance. It was an incredibly different performance compared to his other films. His character is really secretive, and doesn't enjoy talking about himself. Unfortunately, you don't really get to know the character, which makes it difficult to actually like him. However, you can tell he is struggling within, wrestling with the moral implications of helping his client. If not for Hackman's great performance, the central character would have fallen flat.

As a film, The Conversation is a tightly wound thriller that succeeds because of its tension. This film has to be digested. It's quite a slow burn to say the least. What makes it work is the writing and direction. The film's script is very well written. Francis Ford Coppola is a masterful writer and director. This film is very tense, and Coppola builds this tension throughout the film. As each minute passes, the tension rises. The climax of the film is incredible, and jaw dropping.

Unfortunately, I failed to enjoy the film as much as it seemed others did. The central character, while brilliantly played by Hackman, is largely uninteresting. He just isn't well written, and its hard to actually like him as a character when you know nothing about him. You are, like the other characters in the film, in the dark about who Caul is. Maybe this is what Coppola was going for. Finally, large portions of the film were noticeably slow for me. I feel this is a film I need to watch again to formulate my final thoughts.

"The Conversation" is in many ways an impressive picture. The writing, direction, and performances are top notch. The film is very well shot by cinematographer, Bill Butler. While the film is tense and thrilling, it is noticeably a slow burn. The central character-while brilliantly acted-is largely uninteresting. However, this is an impressive film in regards to its immense tension and shocking ending.
December 20, 2015
A study of the interior world of a wire-tapper. One can see how his psychological and moral underpinnings struggles with the information he gathered. The dubious yet innate nature of our pattern recognition, and the acquired sense of paranoid, in combination superimposes a particular interpretation as well as a moral impetus to act. This movie asks the deeper question of what we do, what we do not do, and the modern "just doing my job" escape for all things. It has a touch of nihilistic despair and isolation in the brilliant and understated performance of Hackman.
½ December 13, 2015
While this film is sporadically thrilling and intelligent like the character at its center, they both are flat and uninteresting most of the time. Gene Hackman does a great job and there are some intriguiging messages in the movie, but this movie was too boring to be called a thriller or be entertaining enough to watch a second time.
December 12, 2015
Hackman excels as the lonely everyman, but the fear of surveillance that is paranoia in 1974 would be considered naive futility in 2015.
½ December 6, 2015
Overrated. Decent thriller with some creepy and tense moments but the pacing is glacial and the main character is highly irritating. I do like the ending though!
Super Reviewer
½ November 23, 2015
A sophisticated and taut narrative in which Coppola does with sound what Antonioni had done with image in his Blowup, following a paranoid man unable to open up to anybody and trying desperately to put the pieces together of something that he cannot understand.
November 2, 2015
um thriller de peritos num retrato do conflito entre ritual e responsabilidade, sem nunca deixar que os níveis de tensão desçam, ou provoquem uma uma introversão no enredo
October 27, 2015
Polanski like -style.
½ October 25, 2015
Coppola's deftness behind the camera is irrefutable, his widely-known propensity for large-scale epics supplemented by his abilities in other fields, particularly the contemplative thriller genre of which The Conversation fits into. In Harry Caul, Coppola finds a man desperately trying to hone in on the most minute details of his career in an attempt to find a larger meaning in his paranoid, isolated existence (Coppola fittingly cites Antonioni's Blowup as a major influence), ultimately finding nothing in the process. He reveals nothing about himself to anyone, holes up in warehouses and apartments to pour over the same recordings over and over again in order to forget about the existential dread he feels in the presence of other people, this process being carried out to his own detriment. The few final moments don't back down from this boldly pessimistic message, forcing the audience to recognize his lack of identity and the repercussions of the disconnect associated with unrestrained voyeurism, culminating in a powerful restating of Coppola's indisputable technical ability and his knack for telling universal stories through specific persons or groups.
October 10, 2015
It's a thriller and it's a character study, and both elements serve each other in ways that elevate the film. This is one of Hackman's finest performances. It's incredible to realize that the same actor who so completely embodied Popeye Doyle, completely embodies this timid, reserved paranoid man. The most obvious accomplishment is Walter Murch's sound design. In many ways this film is defined by it's soundscape.
½ October 6, 2015
A film dealing with the Orwellian society that was somewhat ahead of its time, and its themes of omnipresence and paranoia are ever-relevant. The style of direction and camera work takes us into a world where everyone is being watched and listened too against their will or knowledge. I like how it critiqued the hypocritical nature of surveillance workers, who spend their time bugging phones, installing cameras and observing a person's every move, but would be mortified if someone did the same to them. Gene Hackman plays one of cinemas most uptight introverts, a man so lacking in distinguishing features and characteristics that he's fascinatingly dull. It's obviously more of a movie for critics than the general public, with its slow pace and frequent solemnity, and the mystery is fairly underwhelming as we know almost none of the people involved. The film works much better as a think-piece than as entertainment, and I can't see myself rushing to watch it again, but after seeing it once I believe it to be clever, well-acted and with a near-constant atmosphere of claustrophobia and dread.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2015
Between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II Francis Ford Coppola made a film developed from an idea he had almost a decade earlier. Ironically, the main idea behind the film (tape recording) would be the focal point of one of the worst scandals in American history that was going down as this film was being produced and released.

The Conversation is about surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), who is a legend in his field, but has skeletons in his closet. Supported by his assistant Stan (the always great John Cazale) Harry has been hired to record and report on a couple (Cindy Williams and Fredrick Forrest) by a man only known as The Director (Robert Duvall). As the job progresses Harry begins to worry about what the consequences of the information he's about to deliver will have on the parties lives based on an incident from his past that still haunts him.

Hackman plays Caul as a very low key individual that doesn't want any attention, yet is the center of attention in his little world of watching and listening. He's an anxious little man that knows his business and understands who to operate his personal life to keep it out of his work life. Hackman had hit it big by this point and The Conversation really is a change of pace compared to some of hos other work, mainly looking at The French Connection.

The other surprising standout in the film is Harrison Ford as Martin Stett, the threatening thug like individual that is the barrier between the world and The Director. Ford's performance is very confrontational, but he doesn't really do anything to give you a reason to fear him. It's all in your head.

The main theme of The Conversation is paranoia. The thing is that the paranoia belongs to Harry Caul. He's the one that's watching people, but he's the most fearful in the film. From the early moments of the movie you see how Harry dictates his entire life to maintain his privacy and you get to the point that you wonder if maybe some of this fear is in his head, held up by Harry having some delusions leading him to fear that history was going to repeat itself.

Where the two Godfather films were expansive films traveling over thousands of miles and involving decades. they're open and airy and give you plenty of room to breathe. The Conversation is the opposite. It's a claustrophobic film that has you breathing heavy from the fear of what's closing in on us. The stinger on all of this is that even though there is no one nearby, you are being held close with the technology that lets you see and hear from elsewhere, which ironically has become even more prevalent forty years later with our advances in tech. The film itself serves as another Coppola classic from his prime era in the 1970's It's a great film that kind of gets pushed away due to the Godfather films. 70's grit at its finest, almost symbolizing the greatness of the cinema of the era.
½ September 23, 2015
Watched this on 23/9/15
Before there were The Lives of Others(2006), there was The Conversation. A brilliant and suspenseful film which is the most underrated and overlooked film of director Francis Ford Coppola. Conversation is tense, paranoid, full of terrific background score and effective voice editing. Gene Hackman also provides a terrific performance. Coppola has directed this film extremely well and I believe that it is his best direction thus far in his career.
½ September 19, 2015
Was Francis Ford Coppola the greatest American director of the 70s? After seeing The Conversation, I believe wholeheartedly so. Released the same year as The Godfather Pt. 2, The Conversation finds Coppola working within smaller confines but what he shows and reveals helps this move reach it's heights. Gene Hackman plays a brilliant role as a paranoid surveillance expert who starts to believe his current targets may be murdered. As he races against the clock, listening to his recorded tape of said targets over and over, he becomes more obsessed and more paranoid. A final twist reveals that, even though he thought he knew the situation, he didn't try to see the bigger picture or consider all possibilities. Unnervingly tense at times, The Conversation's biggest assets is it's ground breaking sound design and editing. What's more, the themes and issues The Conversation raises about technology and privacy are still potent today, and maybe even more so.
½ September 13, 2015
Very tense film and dark psychological thriller. Gene Hackman did a good job in an usually passive role for him and the sound bits really help u get into the paranoia. A movie that makes you feel for this lonely, obsessed man. Instead of leaving the business that's destroying him and pushing others away he gets into another deadly case. Sad because he is too good at what he does. The ending had a good twist at the end.
August 28, 2015
Nearly perfect. Tense, paranoid, beautiful. Hackman and Coppola at their best with cinematography and sound perfection.
August 26, 2015
Genuinely suspenseful and meaningfully shot, but morally conflicting and unclear.
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