28. “The Conversation”, Francis Ford Coppola (1974)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

The Conversation

The Conversation

dir. Francis Ford Coppola scr. Francis Ford Coppola cin. Bill Butler with Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Frederic Forrest

In 100 words: The Conversation is a stunning masterpiece—a fascinating character study that also works as a taut thriller that takes on one of the fundamental fears of many Americans: a lack of privacy. One genius thing about Harry Caul is despite his eminence in the field of surveillance, he’s ironically bad at keeping his life private. Moreover, I love how Coppola narrows in on Harry’s psyche—his deep Catholicism, which informs his guilt and fear of being complicit to a murder, for instance. Edited for ambiguity, shot with icy clarity and a sometime ethereal feel. Hackman gives an incredibly nuanced performance.

Other Movies for Context: Surveillance is an interesting subject for movies, because a lot of involves giving audiences a chance to snoop in on people. Rear Window expressed that perfectly. Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002) is also similar with its portrait of preventing crime by figuring out the crime before it occurs, similar to this.

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