Conversation, The (1974)

The Conversation (1974), written, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

A curiously floating, unrooted thriller. Even the music has a directionless chromatic quality, like a spinning compass needle.

Some aspects are definite: we know that Harry Caul is a legend in his field of wiretapping and audio surveillance. He's a lonely, anonymous-looking man, a paranoid who does not like to be questioned. He just does the job and says "I don't care what they're talking about" but that is not entirely true. He has a secret sorrow: once his tapes caused a family to be murdered and he doesn't want it to happen again.

But what is this current assignment? Who are the man and woman he taped at lunch time in Union Square? He learns his evidence is dangerous and becomes obsessed with the case. What have they done, or what's going to be done to them? We have no idea who's who or what's what and go over the scene again and again, becoming audio voyeurs, trying to squeeze some meaning out of fragments of conversation.

Harry figures that a murder is pending. But he figures it wrong.

Gene Hackman is always excellent. Young Harrison Ford appears as a sinister executive.

I like the presentation of the surveillance subculture, invisible to the outer world, even though they have their own trade show. It's a gray area and some of them are cops.

Available on Blu-ray. Netflix doesn't have it.