The Conversation

March 18, 2015


I was inspired to watch this film after viewing an interview with Francis Ford Copolla where he produced this film in between his Godfather movies. He downplayed it’s littleness. Indeed it does have a very narrow focus, with a very simple narrative, but it cannot be denied how difficult the cinematic sculpture around even such a miniscule plot can be. It speaks volumes to the scope of Mr. Copolla and his ambitions to be able to treat such a film production so glibly. Even in this age, it is hard to grasp the technical difficulty of the film direction and appreciate an almost two hour film centered around snooping. Perhaps what makes The Conversation even more technically commendable is in the recognition of admixing the technology which makes such spying capable in the film into the entire plot. I can only judge that Mr. Copolla spend copious effort seeking to replicate reality with the modern age tech he shows on screen.


The center of The Conversation is not simply the conversation itself, which a private investigator is able to capture and record, but on the private investigator himself. And yet this is neither a character-study as we barely learn about his humanity away from his profession. Why for instance did he fall into becoming a renowned expert in tapping and recording privacy? What led him to being inquisitive about others when he leads such a lonely life which he does not wish to be bothered by? The most we glean from his past is that he has a demon in his closet, as his own work led to the murder of a family.


And I cannot help but marvel at the screenwriting designing this character revelation. It is done so gently yet pertinently without any distraction. Again, we must appreciate what talent and gifts Mr. Copolla has because it appears so effortless. And normally I do not critique film with a primary emphasis on the technician. In part because The Conversation is more redeemable because of its technical attributes, such as Citizen Kane, than the art it reveals, most of the criticism here lies in urging the viewer to appreciate its unwritten merit.


True, there is a nice plot twist at the end, also a commendation of the technicality. But beyond that, there is not much we can wring from the film. It is much like watching a superstar basketball player practicing his craft, enabling us to emulate his more perfect form into our own efforts to wield the same artful power. Therefore, again, appreciate the requisite technical knowledge and even practical knowledge of business conventions spun to create a near-mirror image of reality in The Conversation. We aren’t allowed to peer more into the base needs of humanity to be lustful for omniscience or omnipotence, for instance, which both speckle ever briefly on the screen. The plot is not complex enough to encourage such pensive interpretation and instead must be appreciated for its mechanical beauty, its structure which can enable us to apply it toward constructing complex cinematic elements which widen the capacity for authenticity of the human soul.


Grade: B+



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