This classic from 1974 is written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola has survived the test of time very well. This is despite the fact the main theme, undercover surveillance, sports some pretty ancient technology. Nevertheless the concept of technology intruding into our lives and its byproducts such as paranoia and conspiracy has never been more relevant or popular. In this movie, surveillance specialist Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) thinks he may have uncovered a murder plot. But is he just paranoid and can events actually be easily explained?
This is a brilliant film with brilliant acting, cinematography, script, sound(track), pace and ambience. It has a clever way of being simple, subtle and subliminal and yet so very captivating, complex and conniving. Whilst a great ensemble creation, the films owes much of its success to Hackman for whom this film is as great an achievement as The French Connection. The character, reminiscent of Edward Lyle in Enemy Of The State (a role he would later play), is a loner, detached, sad and thanks to the nature of their voyeuristic profession, self reflective on their own pathetic existence! Hackman doesn’t over fuss on camera and often, just standing there, he provokes so much in the moment. What is his secret? We don’t know. This makes him so captivating to watch. I often find myself likening him to Kevin Spacey and this is not just because they both played Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor. Ok, gush over!
There are also great supporting performance from John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Harrison Ford and even a cameo from Robert Duvall as the sinister Director. And the non-speaking shadowy figure on the other side of the Catholic confessional booth was in fact Richard Hackman, Gene’s brother.
If you like this film, why not also try the German classic Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives Of Others)