October 26, 2004

The Conversation

I finally got around to watching this Francis Ford Coppola classic last night. It strikes me that it's very much the product of its era (the early/mid 1970's). There's a constant tone of menace, instability and a despairing moral conscience. The person entrapped in this guilt and unease is Harry Caul, a man who tapes the conversations of others. While he is excellent at this one thing, the rest of his life is at best unhappy, and at worst falling apart. And even his one gift can have horrifying consequences - some people respond in violent ways when they learn they've been spied on.

This is a slow movie, but that's not surprising since it was partially inspired by the work of Antonioni (along with Hitchcock and, according to Coppola, Tennessee Williams). And given that it's both a character study and a thriller its pacing usually works. The constant repetition, particularly of the conversation taped at the start of the film, is probably its most interesting structural characteristic. And there are a couple of beautifully shot sequences.

It's not the greatest thing ever, and it does come across as a bit dated. But it's a high quality piece of work. If you are interested in the suspense films of the 1970's, Francis Ford Coppola or Gene Hackman, it's something you'll want to see.

Posted by armand at October 26, 2004 10:15 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Movies

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