Large Impact, Small Reputation: “The Conversation”

Main Image – Gene Hackman in the movie “The Conversation.”(Rialto Pictures)

Harrison Ford and Hackman in The Conversation. Photograph: Allstar/PARAMOUNT

Opening shot of a park from above. Jazz can be heard as a woman’s voice is joined in by a man’s. As we get closer to the environment of this park, a sound of distortion introduces the viewer to what will become the movie’s plot. Harry Caul, a PI, investigates at the request of his client, a woman in conversation with another man. As the story unfolds, the viewer is pushed to believe that the woman will be a victim of homicide due to the jealousy of her husband (Caul’s client). Which later turns out to be a false lead. Caul discovers that as a matter of fact, this was all a setup by the woman in question. She knew her husband was listening to her conversations with this other man and would want revenge and as result decided to him to get away with her love affair. 

    As this unraveled, Caul questions the morality behind his job. Knowing someone could die and not preventing it? Watching a crime scene occur, with the power of stopping it. We follow this question as a large part of the lesson and moral compass of the film. In the end, viewers are shown that even when we think we are in control we are not. Caul believes he has the potential to stop a crime but when the crime happens to be a different one from when he thinks the power he believes to hold is no longer his. 

    The film is mainly held up by its shocking ending, as overall it lacks fast pacing and engaging dialogue as well as scenes. Consequently creating a lack of interest among younger audiences. Some scenes become irrelevant to the overall plot and results in empty spaces between the well-executed beginning and it’s incredibly appealing ending. This dynamic creates a bizarre attraction as well as dislike for the movie. The movie itself has a broad range of potential audience because of its story but the execution might be the thing that hurts it and causes it to not age nicely.

Regardless of these flaws “The Conversation” highlights Coppola’s talent as a director and storyteller. As viewers follow Caul they are given a story that by the end most important leaves an impact either through lesson or engagement making it a longstanding legacy in film.


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