Ben's Review of The Conversation
With the help of his keen and intellectual direction that has made him so famous, Francis Ford Coppola successfully strikes gold with "The Conversation," a film that haunts you with its wonderfully visceral claustrophobic tension that grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. Gene Hackman's iconic performance further immerses the audience in an untold world of anti-secrecy and the ultimate breach of privacy. The major artistic imagery and meaning that the film produces isn't just fantastic but groundbreaking. Coppola's work of genius didn't just set the stage for mysteries to come; it redefined the genre completely.
Hackman plays a surveillance expert who is hired to track a young couple to understand exactly what they are discussing and doing. Over time, he uncovers information that he wasn't supposed to discover. Harry (Hackman) has to attempt to not get involved with the things that he is witnessing, while successfully keeping his life in check. While breaching the lives and privacy of others, he creates a vulnerable spot in his own world, and he must stop it from being destroyed. Coppola's brilliantly crafted screenplay made for a brilliant film indeed.
The performances are astounding. Not only does Gene Hackman give one of the best performances of his career, but the supporting actors that include John Cazale are all flawless as well. Even a young Harrison Ford makes a few well done appearances throughout the picture. The film throws all the non-believable gimmicks out the window and leaves the audience with simple human consciousness, resulting in a suspenseful environment that doesn't let up. As the characters experience well placed exposition, the audience collectively tightens its grip and finds itself truly believing how possible the content of the film really is.
The well done cinematography also helps the film to be as great as it is. The picture begins with a birds eye angle that slowly creeps in to a two-shot. Its actually a recurring example of fantastic cinematography that you'll usually find yourself seeing in some film classes. It's a classic sequence that should never go unnoticed. The rest of the film's visuals are just as good. Most of the fantastic visuals are of Hackman's emotions being conveyed on screen. His slow decay into madness is depicted perfectly through the lens of the camera.
Between "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II," Francis Ford Coppola successfully made a work of art. And though it might go unnoticed when discussing the consecutive production of the two classics that have made him iconic, "The Conversation" is itself a classic. Its firm grip on the genre of mystery sets a standard that to this day is still difficult to match.