For Reel

The Conversation (1974)
July 9, 2016, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
5 Stars
The ConversationBetween the first two Godfather pictures, Francis Ford Coppola directed this thriller which fulfilled his arthouse sensibilities—a direct response to Blow-Up, The Conversation continues the problem of the unreality of the real, suggesting that even the apparently concrete and direct can be problematized. If the film cannot exist without Blow-Up, it is the superior achievement. Perhaps the most provocative step forward is that Coppola argues that if we are to doubt the image, what then do we do with language, which is arguably more complex, it being loaded with inflections, ironies, and entendres? Furthermore, as a dramatization it quite brilliantly links the object (the recording of an ambiguous conversation) to the personal and spiritual—the stakes of Harry Caul’s (Gene Hackman) obsession with the tape aren’t just related to simple amateur sleuthing, but they actually justify his social ineptnes. Moreso than a film about an awakening conscious, The Conversation is a film about a loner fully coming to terms with the unknowability of his fellow man. The fatal twist is not merely horrific because of the action that has taken place, but that even in obsessing over a brief conversation, Caul was unable to discern its true meaning.

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