Quick recap: Surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) records a conversation for a mysterious client and comes to the conclusion that the couple he heard are going to be murdered. I’d say this is a good lesson about the dangers of eavesdropping, but that’s this guy’s job so this is more of a story about doing a job really well.
Fun (?) fact: Continuing with my coincidence fact series, The actress who plays Ann in The Conversation played Laurie in American Graffiti. It’s like the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon except nothing like it all, and much more boring. You’re welcome!
My thoughts: With a title as simple as The Conversation, I knew that the movie was either going to be awesome or worse than The Dead, which at least gave me hope that someone would expire by the end of the movie (Spoiler alert: no one did). But with The Conversation, I already knew I was getting something that every movie has, except for all those silent films, of course. Luckily, director Francis Ford Coppola cut to the chase and showed the aforementioned conversation first. What was said between the couple sounded a little off but gave no indication or hint as to how the rest of the movie would turn out.
As you can imagine, The Conversation is an introspective film that gives more information about Harry Caul than the actual mystery of the couple. Caul is an anti-social man who would rather listen in on other people than give any information about himself. He is also extremely paranoid, which makes sense when your job is to basically spy on other people. On the other hand, he spends so much time lost in his world that he misses all these big clues around him. For example, during a convention about spy equipment (which is just as interesting as you can imagine), a competitor slips a ballpoint pen into Caul’s pocket that will record his conversations the rest of the night. IRONY! I knew the second I saw the pen what it actually was, but Caul didn’t think twice. As he becomes more concerned about the fate of the couple, Caul decides to destroy the tapes instead of handing them over and potentially having blood on his hands. After a drunken party at the spy convention, he sleeps with a woman who-you guessed it- stole the tapes! It was completely obvious what was going to happen which I thought was silly except after thinking about it, the whole scene just made me feel even more sorry for Caul and understanding his loneliness.
I have to stop here. At this point, when the tapes were stolen I was prepared to give this movie a 2/5 because although some of it was interesting, it was also rather boring. But then, as Caul followed the couple to the hotel room to find out their fate, my opinion changed. I LOVED this movie. The ending was much more complex than I ever expected it would be and I have many questions. Although this movie is 40 years old, I’m going to hold off revealing anymore spoilers. Francis Ford Coppola, the guy who directed the Godfather movies, has said that The Conversation is one of his personal favorites and I completely understand why.
Final review: 5/5. I’m tempted to watch the movie again to see what other clues I might be able to pick up that will help me with the ending.
Up next: E.T