The Conversation (1974) Review

Verdict: Pretty Engaging 

Pretty good acting, an intriguing story and a thriller soundtrack.


Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) works as a private hire to record whatever conversations people hire him to record. His latest job finds him following a couple in the park, Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams) who seem to be caught in an affair, but Harry doesn’t see them, he is only concerned with hearing them. However as he progresses he finds reason to fear for the life of these two, especially when the director (Allen Garfield) who hired him isn’t in and instead the Vice President, Martin Stett (Harrison Ford) tries repeatedly to take the taped recordings from him. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

The acting was pretty good, though I did not really relate to any of the characters that much. Gene Hackman does a good job as an anti-social person who respects his privacy, ironic since he invades other’s for a living. The rest of the cast was all right too, though the main focus is on Hackman’s character and the other’s are just transitory. Harrison Ford is really young in this, so much so that I didn’t recognize him.

The story is at first really intriguing. We get shots of this couple in the Square, but the sounds we hear are disjointed. Then the scenes are repeated and we hear different sounds, sounds that get clearer. That was a really interesting juxtaposition and pleasantly surprised me. I also loved the juxtapositions of Caul toying with his machines and the images of the couple’s conversation happening. However, since he had no images to pair the sound with, there is some discrepancy there. How would he know he’s missing dialogue if it’s just sound he’s listening to? Anyway, it was still cool.

Speaking of the sound, the soundtrack near the end was really superb. It did it’s job of getting my heart racing like mad and complemented the scenes fantastically. I could feel my body tensing up, it was such a thriller element.

After the initial beginning the story slows down and around the middle there is a lot of talk and not much action. I did not really understand what the talk was all about and got bored for a bit there. I know it’s crucial for character development, but there was too much of a lull. Things picked up again at the end though.

Also, the ending was good but I don’t really comprehend why it ended like that. OK, maybe now that I think about it I think I know what happened. However, I needed some help from the internet; maybe I wasn’t as invested in the film as I should’ve been.

To sum-up:
PROS: Story, sound element, soundtrack
CONS: Character goof (sound), lull

I give this an 8/10.

Have you seen The Conversation? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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