On the outer side, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation looks like a nerve-wracking thriller, but the truth is, it is not about the plot as much as it is about the character. It is common to be mistaken by this fact and then be disappointed about this movie, because it creates an environment where it does actively pursue the plot. But all it is about is a character pursuing his innermost fears in an out-of-proportion blown morality crisis. The thrilling stuff is just the backdrop of it all.
The man at the center stage is Harry Caul, played by Gene Hackman, who is a professional surveillance expert. He maintains a neutral status about his line of work, for he believes that whatever the tapes he has recorded amount to, he has no responsibility.Until a case pops up where he develops a concern for the two individuals in question and things start going haywire.
Now when I say things start going haywire, it also, and mainly concerns his personal life. This is a character of so many layers and the movie explores the nature of his personality by using the moral crisis. The real mystery is not the plot, it is the character.
The plot on the other hand delves into the ethics of the world of surveillance. It attempts to open the doors of closed rooms that we are so often thrilled and petrified of. And this is one of the few movies (Ace In The Hole is the only other one I recount) in which the theme explored holds relevance to the modern time rather than the one in which it was made and to more horror, I think instead of waning, this relevance is bound to enhance.
The movie encapsulates the master storytelling ability of Coppola with eerie silence used to generate paramount fear to best effect. Coppola transcends Hitchcock’s ability to explore obsessions, and let’s just say, that Palme D’Or was rightfully deserved.
The Conversation is one of the most engaging thrillers ever made, for it manages to create thrills out of the most inexplicable elements of cinema – emotions. And whether you like it or not, believe me, after watching this movie, there will be an irregular check of the sides of your telephone or the curtains. Just in case….
Rating : 9.2 / 10
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