The Conversation - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Conversation Reviews

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May 11, 2019
The Conversation is a very interesting movie. While it can feel long sometimes, especially since it takes a good half an hour to really get things going, it's got some very captivating moments. But what I found to be most amazing about this thriller is the provoking social statements it makes on spying, the lack of privacy and the obsession with technology. And Gene Hackman gives a good performance, and it's also funny to see young Harrison Ford in this flick. Overall, this movie is a slow-building crime/thriller, but with an impressive result. Recommended!!
½ May 3, 2019
The Conversation is a 1974 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola who also directed The Godfather. The film stars Gene Hackman as Harry Caul and John Cazale as Stanley.

The acting may not be as strong as The Godfather, but it's still really strong. I especially thought that Gene Hackman did an exemplary job from the way he conveys emotion to his dialogue delivery.

The characters were steady and portrayed well, but I do have to say that they aren't the most memorable of characters.

The cinematography I also thought was really strong with some great shots scatted around the film.

The set designs and props were done very well from the various recording equipment to the building designs.

The film also had a very unique style from the cinematography to the way Francis Ford Coppola uses the recordings.

The sound design with the recordings is also done very well and in my opinion helps with the atmosphere of the film.

The soundtrack I personally really like from the piano to the way Francis Ford Coppola fits it into the film.

The story I found was interesting and intriguing. Throughout the runtime of the film I personally didn't really know what was going to happen next.

The film as well had a great atmosphere that had me on my feet for nearly the entire film.

The film in my opinion also had some great pacing from start to finish.

I also personally really enjoyed the film and hope to see it again in the near future.

Over all I give it a
½ March 31, 2019
An unsettling look into our connection with technology, this film weaves some fantastic technical work with an emotional grip like few others thanks to some incredible performances on both sides of the camera.
½ March 24, 2019
While this film is sporadically thrilling and intelligent like the character at its center, they both are flat and uninteresting most of the time. Gene Hackman does a great job in the role and there are some intriguiging messages in the movie, but this movie was too boring to be called a thriller or be entertaining enough to watch a second time.
½ February 10, 2019
Very mature and nuanced film, which seems to have been largely forgotten.

Hackman, Cazale, Garr, & Ford, with Coppola directing? STILL relevant social commentary on surveillance and isolation connected to technology? Display of how paranoia (even when warranted) can utterly destroy a life?

Great film. If you get a chance, give it a chance.
January 26, 2019
The best, GREATEST mystery movie ever made!
December 23, 2018
Less splashy than Coppola's other works but every bit as great in its lean, un-arty way. An essential film of the 70s.
½ December 1, 2018
One of the best thrillers i've seen from Coppola.
October 23, 2018
A very interesting movie. I wasn't convinced at first, however one week later and I'm still thinking about it. That's one of the hallmarks of a great film.
October 18, 2018
Intense, Intriguing and brimming over with paranoia this amazing thriller is still unnerving and relevant today. This is my favorite film from the very talented film director, Francis Ford Coppola.
Gene Hackman is another one of my favorite actors and he is brilliant in this edgy gem of a film.
August 26, 2018
May not exactly be thrilling as it was in its release but it sure is captivating at the level of "The Third Man" that engaged you to keep on guessing till its somewhat indirect ambiguous end, and Hackman's performance maintains the inner paranoia. (A-)

(Full review TBD)
June 23, 2018
Coppola and Hackman at their best.
May 7, 2018
I hate to say it, but I found 'The Conversation' to be really quite boring. Your enjoyment of this movie will hinder on a number of things, but there's no doubt that it's a product of its time. In today's age, we've seen this story a hundred times, and we've seen it done much, much better. But it's not just the fact that it's dated, far from it. It's simply uninteresting for a large proportion of the time. You get a sense that Coppola attempted to give Hackman's character a backstory, but it just doesn't work - you don't care. It didn't do the film any favours that I watched Brian De Palma's infinitely more interesting and far better executed 'Blow Out' recently; which just highlights the problems with Coppola's movie in far greater detail. Whereas that film had an uneasiness - a constant tension - running throughout, and a main character you could get behind and sympathise with, this film never really picks up any momentum, because the story simply isn't executed very well. It has some merit, of course, and for 1974, the concept of wire-tapping and the consequences of technology were pretty big themes. However, its biggest sin was not being able to make an interesting concept into an interesting or entertaining movie.
½ April 30, 2018
A Slow Burn to Remember.

Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation is a masterclass in brilliant directing. The cinematography is gorgeous and crafty. The acting is so real and subtle. The use of sound is actually genius. The music sets the tone. It's just very slow paced that holds back the excellent story and writing.

Around every corner is a beautiful shot. The scenes are set up so well with unique set pieces and wholly originally locales from empty hotel rooms to a surveillance device convention to a business executive's office. It's all fascinating to look at with every moment.

Gene Hackman delivers the most reserved and calm performance of his career as private investigator Harry Caul. You are constantly wondering what he is thinking. He is relatable in how human the character comes across as with every choice. He is cautious to the point of being paranoid, but he is also amiable around others if quiet. He loves jazz and listening to those around him. Hackman puts on a true display of complex acting with very little dialogue or movement. He's the perfect private investigator in The Conversation.

A young Harrison Ford delivers a highly believable and threatening performance like no other in his career. Another stand out is Hackman's assistant listener Stan played by the funny and quirky John Cazale. Allen Garfield's amazingly underhanded as the Hackman's rival investigator Bernie. Overall, the entire ensemble delivers excellent acting for their respective roles.

The Conversation can boast the most creative use of sound and voice recordings in any movie ever. The use of audio recordings and playback are played with by Coppola going in and out of conversations. Coppola utilizes the technology at his disposal for unique moments of listening in and spying on people. The subtle changes in volume and clarity are intentional and superbly executed. I am fascinated at how Coppola managed to pull of such a clever use of audio to enhance the movie watching experience. Audiences will be confused then enlightened in minutes as you solve the mystery along side Hackman's character.

The music is beautiful piano from composer David Shire. There are long passages of delight piano melodies to liven up the mood, then long stretches of disquieting silence. The suspense is palpable as loud rushes of piano rhythms will soar into hearing with haunting sounds that generate a worrisome atmosphere to The Conversation. The score is excellent and quite memorable too. It really contributes to the suspenseful vibe that The Conversation contains.

The writing and story is a tale of privacy, investigation, wiretapping, ethics, morality, and faith. Coppola's writing is realistic and quite deep. His topics still feel relevant and profound. He makes Hackman's Harry Caul character a man that must listen in and follow people, taping their lives, and risking their lives just for money. This wears heavy on Hackman's mind as he believes himself a man of faith. It is an intriguing take on ethical questions brought up during the course of an investigator's career. You will wonder whether bugging people is worth it too after watching The Conversation.
½ February 17, 2018
Fantastic surveillance flick. 1001 movies to see before you die.
January 30, 2018
One of my all - time favourite films. Not only does this capture perfectly the paranoia of 1970's counter - culture, it also serves as a Cassandra to modern society concerning the ills of unregulated surveillance, corporate espionage, and the deterioration of ethics that accompanies a system where the sceptics are silenced.

Gene Hackman is perfectly cast. Here, he is at the peak of his powers, able to project the protracted inner conflict raging within himself caused by the plot's dilemma.

No studio would make this film when Coppola presented the original script, so he financed production himself by starting his own studio (Zoetrope) entirely funded by agreeing to direct The Godfather part 2 in exchange for his Directing fee, millions of dollars, paid up front.
January 18, 2018
More proof of how great the 70s were for movies. First, Hackman is SPECTACULAR. His Harry Caul is a nuanced, incredibly human performance (and is apparently Hackman's own favorite in his career). The technological story elements are surprisingly current in 2018; much of the suspense in this thriller comes from the way Harry decodes the garbled audio from the surveillance conducted in the opening scene, and it retains a great, authentic feel decades later (I'm a tech who works with audio and it didn't ring false for me at all).

Hackman isn't the only great performance; Harrison Ford is excellent as Assistant to "The Director", slick and menacing. Cindy Williams (yes, THAT Cindy Williams) is also excellent as one of Harry's surveillance subjects.

The 70s were an amazing decade for cinema, throwing off the shackles of the Hayes Code and giving unprecedented fertile ground for innovative directors. The Conversation stands as one of the best examples of what a sharp young director could do.
November 27, 2017
I've never really been able to connect with this film, I've watched it a few times and I almost want to like it more than I actually do in practice. The idea is great, delving deep into the paranoia of the time fresh on the heels of the Watergate Scandal. Hackman is brilliant as well, but whether it's the pacing or whether it's the central story I never really get hooked. It may well just be me though and is definitely still worth seeking out if you've never watched it.
½ November 9, 2017
Francis Ford Coppola's suspenseful thriller following a surveillance expert's growing suspicion piecing together recordings of an assignment emerges as a pensive observation on the paranoia technology conjures in our closely guarded seclusion.
August 20, 2017
No Double Negatives in this conversation.
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