Skip to main content

The Film List Project #21: The Conversation

Let's have a conversation about The Conversation.

What I thought was going to be a high intensity action movie turned out to be one of the most interesting character pieces I have ever seen.

Gene Hackman looks positively ordinary as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert assigned to spy on a seemingly ordinary couple couple. The bad hair, creepy mustache, dated wardrobe, and so many other things about Caul's first appearance in the film make it seem like he's the boring one of this bunch of sleuths.

Then, you see this guy's paranoia, and it all starts to make sense. He's the focus of this story, not the people he's working with or the couple whose conversation he listens to.

Caul is one of the best in the business, but not without sacrificing some of his sanity. Whether his paranoid nature is caused by his career choice or his career choice was driven by his paranoid nature is something we will never know, but there's no doubt they go hand in hand.

His struggles to reveal personal details, engage in conversation, and be intimate with others all make him an incredibly awkward member of society. However, his dedication to his job initially makes him seem like something beyond an ordinary paranoid guy.

You watch this guy listen to the same conversation over and over again, delving deeper into the past and alienating the people around him. Even I started to get annoyed with him. I mean, there's only so much you can learn from the same conversation, right? Well, yeah, but Caul seems to have forgotten that.

He creates this story in his head about the people he's spying on that makes it difficult for you to decide what's really going on and what's Caul's delusion. It starts with these glances between Caul and the couple that anyone who's looked up someone on social media who they don't know very well and then seen them out in public knows very well. It ends with full on visions and Caul tearing up his apartment.

I would definitely watch this again just to examine Caul as a character. The way he grows and develops is understandable, realistic, and fascinating. I'm sure I missed things the first time around that I'll catch the next time, and, to me, that's what makes a truly great film.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On School

School started a week and a half ago. This year, I'm faced with the typical new things, like classes, work load, schedule, and teachers, but I have also (re)joined the choir and the speech team, and we have a new volleyball coach. While I am excited about all of this new stuff, I can't help feeling like a scared little freshman, not knowing what to do at all and diving into whatever I can while screaming bloody murder. The start of school makes everyone feel really scared, agitated, depressed, or all of the above, I think, and I am most certainly no exception. I have been very mopey and angry and screamy and cry-y lately, and I have definitely been taking refuge in God, music, coffee, and exercise now more than anything. While I sit here, once again stressed and not helping myself by procrastinating and writing a blog post, I just wonder if I'm the only one who feels this way about a little thing like school. I'm sure I'm not, because there are billions of people ou

Cameron Crowe Ruined My Life

Believe me when I say that it pained me to type out the title to this post. Cameron Crowe is one of my very favorite filmmakers. To me, a guy who can write teenagers who are real people, really capture the full spectrum of human emotion, and incorporate a great soundtrack into his work is a real genius. Though it initially made me feel warm, fuzzy, and hopeful, a recent late night viewing of 2005's Elizabethtown  ended up making me a little nervous. I realized that Crowe was just like everybody else. Now, this probably doesn't make sense to those of you who admire his work. As a writer and filmmaker, Crowe definitely has a unique voice and vision that helps his work connect with all kinds of audiences. That's precisely the problem. Last week I wrote a post about how movies are only a reflection of life and not actually true to life itself. In the post, I mentioned that filmmakers are just one person with one perspective, and that is absolutely true of Crowe. In Crow

Be Smart

It still shocks me when people tell me they no longer go to the movies, but even I was surprised that I went to see a movie twice in one week. Yes, I am no stranger to a repeat trip to the theatre, but  Booksmart  hit me hard. I very rarely see a new release that rockets to the top of my list of all time favorites. In fact, I don't think it's happened since I saw Whip It  10 years ago. If you haven't yet heard about Booksmart, it's an original, funny, empathetic take on an old classic. Two best friends want to go to a party after four years of a solely academic high school career. What it does differently from movies like Superbad (which I also love, by the way) should and will change the genre forever. The two leads ( Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein ) not only land every joke and win you over immediately, but they also communicate the weird and wonderful world of female friendship through their performances in a way I've rarely seen. They don't compete,