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The Conversation back to product details

a character study
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written by alexjb October 12, 2006 - 10:18 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
it's not a spy movie, not a con movie, not an action film, not a whodunit. those things are in it, but are secondary. the techie stuff is fun, but way outdated; the SF backdrop is interesting if you live here (they were surprisingly realistic in their location continuity), but it doesn't actually matter to the film, and there's very little in the way of taking advantage of the city.

it's a character study. a study of someone who's incredibly repressed, a total control freak. his entire identity is based on the fact that noone knows him, and yet he can learn things about other people. when the demons of his past come back to him, he begins to unravel, but slowly, privately.

hackman's performance is great, which is good because this is film is tight, with very little else going on and no other characters that are more than supporting. if you stay as focused on hackman and what his character is going through, there's a lot to be appreciated about The Conversation.

oh, and i agree that the commentary is worthwhile - coppola explains the connection (in his brain) to BlowUp, as well as filling in background on the characters, plot development and logistics.

Blow out is an audiophile?s homage to Blowup not The Conversation
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written by exjosh February 23, 2005 - 11:49 AM PST
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This is no simple homage to Blowup. In Blowup there is a defining moment in which the photographers painter friend tells him -what he loves about art, starts with a single almost insignificant portion of an art piece and then everything branches out from that portion with all the pieces falling into place. The Conversation misses this entirely and perhaps that is a comment on Blowup there is no love in the Gene Hackman character for his work or his technique. He is looking for a connection that he never finds -it is pure obsession, the prototype for Michael Manns entire career.

This character dissects the mystery not out of love for art but out of his necessity to work and continue to innovate. He then despises himself and the profession and he becomes isolated.

The pivotal moment in the film for me is when he is seduced out in the open while being taped by his colleague. The camera moves discretely one direction in a shot reverse shot manner however it doesnt cut back it only cuts one direction. Its hard to describe in words however if you see it, youll see what Im talking about. It expresses his movement toward this woman and his need to connect with people. It is his downfall.

Not really a 'thriller', not for everyone
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written by MrBunBun February 14, 2004 - 5:31 PM PST
2 out of 10 members found this review helpful
This movie for me was very much a character study and not so much a thriller or mystery. Granted, it was assigned viewing for a film course so that colored my impression of it. I guess the assumption of any review is that the person watching the film did so voluntarily. I normally would not rent this title, I have no pre-existing interest in Watergate or the 60's or the 70's, and I'm not even a fan of spy films or gadgets. What I saw was a very 'deliberately paced' film, a conflict that was mostly internal, and overall it just barely kept my interest level up to the end.

The horror...the horror
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written by Kinoidiot July 30, 2002 - 8:01 PM PDT
19 out of 19 members found this review helpful
Though this film predates his magnum opus, "Apocolypse Now," this earlier and quieter work strikes much deeper into the heart of darkness with its depiction of a surveillance expert's unraveling sense of reality. It also ends up, in retrospect, to be a much more damning indictment of the chaos and crisis of confidence that corruption bred during the Nixon regime. What this film lacks in napalm mornings and Wagnerian overtures is more than made up for in its subtle turn of the screw.

A close cousin to Antonioni's "Blow Up," Coppola's depiction of one man's manic obsession over detail is made more familiar through certain "noir" conventions. Gene Hackman turns a 180 away from his role as hothead Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection," to reveal a sad loner haunted by the gruesome consequences of an earlier surveillance job. Other earlier career appearances by Harrison Ford, Frederic Forrest, Robert Duvall, and Cindy Williams make this even more enjoyable to watch.

Separate commentaries by director Coppola and editor Walter Murch are somewhat dry, but nevertheless informative (for instance, Murch points out a building demolition outside of the protagonist's window; a fleeting cinematic record of the destruction of San Francisco's historic Western Addition neighborhood). A short documentary produced during the shooting by a young (now established cinematographer/editor) Robert Dalva is a great bonus inclusion. And for those who can appreciate it, there's a Dolby 5.1 remix by Murch & Co.

Though some of the film's moments and performances are slighly dated or unpolished, I consider this film to be Coppola in top form, and perhaps the smartest and most haunting movie he's ever made.

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(Average 8.03)
507 Votes
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