Absence Of Malice (2003)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this legal drama from director Sydney Pollack, Sally Field stars as Megan, an ambitious newpaper reporter who, based on information from FBI investigator Rosen, played by Bob Balaban, writes a scathing article that implicates Gallagher, a reclusive business-owner played by Paul Newman, in the recent disappearance of a labor leader. When Gallagher confronts Megan and sets her straight, the two team together to prove his innocence and have a few romantic interludes along the way. Wilford … More

Rating: PG (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Kurt Luedtke
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 31, 1998
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


as Gallagher

as Malderone

as Waddell

as McAdam

as Davidek

as Quinn

as Eddie Frost

as Sarah Wylie

as Mobster

as Secretary

as Ragged Lady

as Ragged Lady

as FBI Agent

as FBI Agent

as FBI Agent

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Beverage Manager

as Dock Boy

as Longshoreman

as McAdam's Assistant

as News Staff

as News Staff

as News Staff

as News Staff
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Absence Of Malice

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Critic Reviews for Absence Of Malice

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (6)

Absence of Malice does not invalidate All the President's Men. But with entertainment values -- and a moral sense -- every bit as high as that film's, it observes that there is an underside to journalistic gallantry.

Full Review… | October 1, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A splendidly disturbing look at the power of sloppy reporting to inflict harm on the innocent.

Full Review… | May 26, 2008
Top Critic

Impeccably liberal in its orientation to 'issues,' his avoids the excesses of Stanley Kramer-like telegraphy, only to come up looking aesthetically wet.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

I not only liked this movie despite its factual and ethical problems -- I'm not even so sure they matter so much to most viewers.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

What Mr. Pollack's movies lack in momentum, they make up for in quiet gravity.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

The picture has a smug, demoralizing sense of pervasive corruption.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Absence Of Malice

Understandably, this is considered one of the greatest movies about journalism. I think it is mostly due to the fact that it takes an even position on both sides of the story. On the one hand you have Sally Field as Maggie just trying to get recognized with a hot story, but then you also have Paul Newman's Gallagher falling victim to suspicion of criminal acts. Sydney Pollack makes a case for both sides and ultimately decides that they both have reasoning for what they do. When Paul Newman eventually sets his mastermind scheme into effect, we see who the true victims are. It's really interesting to see what goes into a news story, but also see that they aren't just made up words, they're real people and real events.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

A great journalism drama/thriller with great actors, it's even pretty exciting for the most part. If you like movies about journalism, I highly recommend it.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


Absence of Malice is another one of those early '80's news/courtroom dramas where people have to face what's legal and what's moral. The film stars Paul Newman as Michael Colin Gallagher, a liquor warehouse owner in Miami whose father was a player in the syndicate. Gallagher is clean, but a federal prosecutor (Bob Balaban) use him as a way to gain leverage in the case of a missing union boss. A story is "leaked" to reporter Megan Carter (Sally Field) who ends up writing the story and starting the snowball effect of events that soon goes out of control.

To be perfectly honest, the only reason to watch this film is for Paul Newman. Newman once again electrifies the screen. The rest of the cast is blah. The story, which starts out interesting, soon turns into a ridiculous cat and mouse game that is far from believable. You could compare this film to All the President's Men or ...And Justice for All but they aren't really in the same league. The only other redeeming part of the film is Wilford Brimley's cameo near the end of the film. He makes a rather dull ending a little more exciting. Other than that the film is a dull exercise in how to suckle onto a popular genre.

Chris Garman

Super Reviewer

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