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Flicks: The Conversation

Hackman’s Harry Caul is a precursor to the role he played in “Enemy of the State,” right down to the abandoned warehouse headquarters. The details may be different, but the newer movie's Brill obviously channeled Harry Caul as a grumpy old man.

Throughout The Conversation, Caul embodies haunted loneliness. In the middle of a party, he’s all by himself. Every scene displays a new angle to the barriers Harry has raised between him and the world, his girlfriend, his partner, everyone. He’s afraid to open up to anyone, to trust anyone. Then in one scene and each subsequent scene that solitary life is justified.

The party was the decisive moment. As soon as he let’s down his guard, he’s punished for it. He opens up his fortress, literally and figuratively, allowing others in. From then on he gets his teeth kicked in at every turn. His jealous colleague badgers and humiliates him. Everyone he allows himself to trust betrays him, including those he wants to save.

In the end, he destroys nearly everything of value to him in order to regain the security he once had.

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