Francis Ford Coppola directs Tim Roth, Bruno Ganz and Alexandra Maria Lara in this philosophical fantasy where an elderly academic is reborn as a young(-ish) man in wartime Europe and… eventually… starts a relationship with a woman regressing through past lives.
Someone whose soul travels through time, out of sync and off pace with the deterioration of their body. Coppola returns to this theme in Peggy Sue Got Married, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Jack. Both The Outsiders and Twixt exist within a narrative time loop where the opening shots mouth snakes around to swallow the tale of the ending. The Conversation is a meta narrative of a man who captures a moment in time and obsesses and re-edits it to the point where it loses all meaning and reality. It is fair to say temporal matters mean a lot to FFC. Not that he makes much more than an overly earnest, pretentious hash here of his theme. My God, this is a boring movie. There’s rarely a shot or visual choice that doesn’t take you out of the film and question the intention behind it. A lot of the interiors are fudged as Coppola has filmed them at his vineyard using obvious green screen. The lifeless digital compositions reminded me of Fassbinder’s endless Berlin Alexanderplatz. Set in the same period and locale and with a similar sense of bludgeoning artificiality. At least this has the good grace to last less than two hours. The acting is also all very Brechtian. Roth is solid, coming alive in the scenes where he performs opposite discordant mirror images of himself. The performers that orbit him though are flat, obtuse puzzle pieces, shuffled around but never forming a complete picture. It is a head scratcher with no workable solution. Makes you wish the Movie Brat wunderkind had just carried on with gun-for-hire work for the studios… or retired. One final thought on that… Spielberg, De Palma, Marty, George Lucas and Francis all used to watch each other’s latest movies in rough cuts and give notes… so which Francis Ford Coppola project did this tradition end on? I wonder was it Captain EO, Jack or this?
Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk
We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/