A smart thriller built on tapes, microphones, and a tight Gene Hackman performance.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Interesting” title=”Recording the conversation.”/]
The opening of this film is just so damn good. You’re given a glimpse of what surveillance is all about. All the members of the team have their own ingenious way of capturing the conversation. You quickly figure out this job requires nerves of steel and a whole lot of concentration.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Sad” title=”Harry can’t have a normal relationship.”/]
Helped by her female intuition, Harry Caul’s girlfriend manages to uncover a side he wasn’t willing to show, and she begins to ask him about his private life. This makes him highly uncomfortable and they break up. I believe there are two reasons as to why they end up leaving each other. Harry is probably worried for her safety now that she is beginning to discover that he is a surveillance expert. It’s also possible Harry’s ego was hurt since she exposed him so easily whilst his job is all about not being noticed. It might be one of those two, or both. It’s up to the viewer’s interpretation.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Fun” title=”Hey, it’s Han Solo before Han Solo!”/]
One thing I love is seeing celebrities before they actually got famous. Harrison Ford already had been in a few movies prior to this one, but The Conversation was released a few years before Star Wars, so Ford is pretty young here. And he does a solid job.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Quotable” title=”‘He’d kill us if he got the chance.'”/]
Caul repeatedly listens to his tape recording of the conversation and this quote is what deeply troubles him. Haunted by a past contract which led to the murder of a family, he is now scared of triggering a similar event. This character is clearly an introvert. Caul couldn’t cry or scream his lungs out in despair. Hackman, as an actor, had to work very hard on his non-verbal communication with the camera.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Bitchy” title=”William P. ‘Bernie’ Moran.”/]
Moran reveals himself as Caul’s main rival in the surveillance business. Through his constant praise of Caul’s work, you know that, deep inside, Moran takes pleasure in annoying him. He knocks Harry down later, in front of his own colleagues mind you, as he leaks the recording of the intimate conversation Caul had minutes ago thanks to the spy-pen he put in his pocket earlier.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Heartbreaking” title=”Caul’s remaining faith in others is shred to pieces.”/]
He wakes up, the woman is gone, and so are the tapes. And I thought the humiliation was over with Moran! Poor guy.
[do action=”moment” emo=”WTF” title=”The hotel room.”/]
The minutes the movie spends at the hotel nicely transfer Caul’s disarray unto us. He freaks out, so you don’t really know what’s truly going on. You ask yourself ‘Is he hallucinating?’ and I believe the same question goes through Caul’s mind as well.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Shocking” title=”Well, I honestly didn’t see it coming.”/]
I was fooled just like Harry Caul. I never thought THEY were planning the murder all along. It’s a perfectly-executed twist. I think the girl’s apparent innocence is the main reason why Caul (and I) couldn’t expect such a thing.
[do action=”moment” emo=”Sad” title=”Caul is beaten at his own game.”/]
Desperately trying to find a hidden microphone, he destroys everything in his apartment but fails to find anything. What will happen next? I wish I knew. I like to believe that he gave up on his current job and became a famous saxophonist. The ending kinda leaves the door open for such a possibility.