Sunday, 13 July 2008

The Conversation [1974]


Sandwiched between two of America’s most iconic movies – The Godfather and its equally famous sequel The Godfather Part II, Francis Ford Coppola’s low-budget and far more personal effort The Conversation has unfortunately failed to attain recognition commensurate with its implosive quality. Devoid of any high-end production designs and quietly meditative in its tone, The Conversation raises serious issues like privacy vis-à-vis right to information, without taking any subjective standpoint. Gene Hackman, as a veteran surveillance expert and an obsessive loner, given the job of recording the conversation of a couple by the mysterious “Director”, is fabulous in his struggle between clinical efficiency, personal impassivity and pangs of conscience. An influential precursor to the German movie The Lives of Others, Ulrich Muhe’s terrific turn in the latter is heavily reminiscent of Hackman’s layered role here. Right from its wonderfully constructed long opening shot slowly zooming in on Union Square in San Francisco, Coppola has led the movie (through a great mixture of lazy elegance and gripping psychological foreplay) from indifference through a gradual propagation of fracture in the protagonist’s otherwise stoic façade to complete paranoia and psychological breakdown – as the ‘bugger’ ends up getting ‘bugged’ – and finally into cinematic excellence and a defining achievement of the great filmmaker.

p.s. The movie was lying with me for sometime now. So thanks is due to LAMB's MOTM feature for compelling me to watch it.






Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Spy Thriller
Language: English
Country: US

2 comments:

Rick Ryan said...

It is strange how this film "fell through the cracks", so to speak. But it does deserve to be rediscovered, if only because it features arguably the best performance of Hackman's career (who sadly announced his retirement from acting last month).

I enjoyed reading your post, and I've taken the liberty of adding a link to Cinemascope to my sidebar.

Shubhajit said...

The movie indeed "fell through the cracks". That's a nice way of putting it & i couldn't agree with you more. Hackman was a fine actor & will be missed.

Thanks Ryan for the appreciation & the "liberty" that i'm glad you've taken.