The Conversation (1974) Film Review

The Conversation is one of those classic films that just doesn’t work for me. It’s monotonous, slow-paced, and barely amounts to much. Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a surveillance expert who runs his own company in San Francisco and is a very private man. He is cautious with everything, especially with his personal relationships. He is put up to the task of recording a conversation between two couples in a square and becomes overly obsessive with the conversation which is gradually explained as to why throughout the film. It gets obnoxious real quick. For well-over an hour of the film, you’ll be obnoxiously watching Caul obsess of the conversation, and don’t worry, they’ll show that conversation over and over again. It’s annoying. Really annoying.

The movie has themes that are interesting from the aspects of wire tapping (which can easily relate to our post 9/11 world), Caul’s religion, and his eventual personal conflict we found out about much later into the film. The issue is that most of these themes rarely go beyond a surface level in my mind. And the personal conflict to the character is revealed way too late into the film and by that point, I already didn’t care much at all for the character. He isn’t interesting at all. He is quite boring in nearly everyway because he isn’t really developed, he is somewhat subtly but isn’t enough for me to care about this man who is essentially breaking down from his obsession. Hackman’s performance is sufficient enough but it’s more in the lack of development.

My issue is that this movie could have been so much more. By the end of the film where questions finally get answered, I could care less. It was much too late for me to care about what was going on in the film by the last 20 minutes, did they expect me to? Because I sure didn’t. The movie just got old real quick, pretty much by the 40 minute mark I was already fairly frustrated with the film. I wanted to be patient, I was expecting it to be a slow build by the 20-30 minute mark but it never went anywhere. It wasn’t like Vertigo where the slow build up is so worth it in nearly every single way. Overall, I was just frustrated by this movie, as the themes it laid out where potentially interesting but executed poorly.

2/5 stars.


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