Wednesday, 12 April 2017

''The Conversation'' (1974 film)- Review

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Released: 1974
Country: United States

Genre: Psychological thriller, Mystery, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


Francis Ford Coppola's ''The Conversation'' deals with surveillance. The protagonist is Harry Caul, played by Gene Hackman. He is an introverted surveillance expert. He is highly successful, well known and has his own surveillance company. When he gets the job of recording and comprehending the conversation of a man and a woman, he gets slightly startled. The two of them are apparently having an affair, and Harry is able to detect the exact words that they say. However, after he is done with the task, he is hesitant to hand the record in, as, based on his past experiences, he thinks that record might be used against the two people, that the record can become the basis of a serious crime. However, when he gets to the bottom of things, the truth he discovers is much murkier than he expected it to be.

For the first fifty minutes or so I kept wondering where the film was heading to. It seemed way too quiet, very little seemed to be happening, except showing us glimpses into Harry's life and showing us how Harry tries to figure out what the man and the woman are saying, what is actually means. The first fifty minutes or so were quiet and subtle, and although engrossing, not exactly suspenseful. However. When the film takes a turn- a very twisted turn indeed- it seems as if the entire tone of the film changes. The last part of the film is not just shocking but scary- and I mean it, it is extremely suspenseful and scary. I wouldn't be exaggerating when I say that it is Hitchcockian. Yes, indeed, the last part of the film, through its suspenseful and scary atmosphere, reminded me of Hitchcock's films. That is when I realized why it was so very important to keep the first half of the film as quiet as it is: to build up an atmosphere slowly, so that when the shock actually comes, the atmosphere is already developed- though I must repeat again that the atmosphere took an entirely different turn after the shock. The pace remains the same even after the shock: it is the atmosphere that takes a terrifying turn.

At the same time, besides the intention of building up the atmosphere, the quietness of the first half was also important to develop the character of Harry Caul, so that we can understand the reasons for his paranoia that we eventually get to experience near the end of the film. Really, his is a very well-developed character, and Gene Hackman does an excellent job.

I wouldn't be exaggerating when I say that the film shocked me to the core. The twist and the shock that come near the end- along with the way it is presented in (I must mention the excellent sound effects here)- make this film an unforgettable psychological thriller.

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