Absence Of Malice Reviews
(Full review coming soon)
Since the movie is as one-sided as it is, you would hope for some style from the script, but it's instead just plodding and without any style whatsoever. Field, who's shown herself as highly competent in films like "Norma Rae" inexplicably plays a complete ditz here. Newman just plays his stock Newman character.
The way the story unfolds is clunky and unfocused. Throwing in a lot of mafia dealings, lots of unnecessary melodrama, and a kinda-sorta romance between the mismatched Newman and Field makes the movie thoroughly unwieldy.
I've never been a fan of Dave Grusin's film scores, so his over-the-top music here again proves to be too much. Owen Roizman is a very good cinematographer, but his work can't help the movie with its issues.
Sydney Pollack was always a director who was certainly the lesser of his contemporaries. Easily proving this is how much better a job Sidney Lumet did with Newman the next year with "The Verdict." And, it didn't hurt that Lumet had the great David Mamet writing the script.
A prosecutor leaks to a local newspaper reporter that a liquor store owner is involved in some misdeeds that led to a union boss's murder. The liquor store owner comes from a family of organized crime members, but he is clean. The newspaper reporter feels bad and believes he isn't involved in the crime. They will work together to uncover the truth.
"Unless you think that will make you impotent."
"You have some mouth."
Sydney Pollack, director of Tootsie, The Firm, The Yakuza, Out of Africa, Havana, Random Hearts, and The Interpreter, delivers Absence of Malice. The storyline for this picture is fairly interesting and reminded me little of Nobody's Fool. The acting is first rate and makes the movie worthwhile. The cast includes Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban, Melinda Dillon, and Luther Adler.
"Are you sure you're right?"
"I'm never sure I'm right."
I DVR'd this picture because it stars the legend, Paul Newman. I am a huge fan of his work and thought his character was well presented and delivered. The overall premise was just average, but the acting and characters made the film worthwhile. I recommend seeing this film once, especially if you're a fan of Newman.
"He stayed with me; every day, every hour, and that's what happened."
The film introduces itself with a shocking headline - Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman), the son of a bootlegger, has been accused of murdering longshoreman union official Joey Diaz. The woman behind the story is Megan Carter, who receives information from federal prosecutor Elliot Rosen (Bob Balaban) in a more than unusual way.
Gallagher confronts Carter, but the two have a strange sort of chemistry between them than turns into a romance that (sigh) would only happen in movies. While Carter harbors feelings for Gallagher, her journalistic tendencies get the best of her, leading to the suicide of a woman (Melinda Dillon) who has a connection with Gallagher. Carter is still determined to find the truth in Diaz's disappearance, even if everything in her wake has been destroyed.
"Absence of Malice" is unusual because its two leading actors are far from heroes, and don't remain likable throughout the entire film. Carter is so careless in her actions that it makes journalists seem like monsters, willing to publish anything no matter the costs. It may not be true in every case, but she definitely isn't Roz Russell intelligent. Gallagher is the underdog, are his attempts at breaking free from scrutiny and moving towards revenge are far from kind-hearted. Pollack doesn't side with his characters, but instead, explores his characters' clumsy ideas of justice.
Field carries enough charisma under her belt, walking with an "I'm a strong independent woman who doesn't need a man to survive" 1981 walk, committing the biggest of mistakes. She has a soul, however, even if she isn't a very smart journalist. Field is a lovable actress, but there's somewhat of a gap between the woman she's playing and our opinion of Field herself.
Newman is strong in a central role, and we feel the need to side with him under any circumstances, because he's Paul F%#$ing Newman, after all. But the best of the cast is Melinda Dillon, whose understated and ultimately tragic performance is the most memorable part of the film.
Even if we don't remember that Sally Field is the one that leads to her suicide, and even if we don't remember the fact that Paul Newman was only friends with her, not her lover, the scene where Dillon runs across a series of lawns, swiping all the newspapers from her neighbors, is startling. She is a woman of little means, without much of a mark on society, but the fact that she can't live with the humiliation of receiving an abortion is truly upsetting.
"Absence of Malice" is a standout because it isn't a routine journalism based thriller. Rather than exploring the good journalism can do, it shows how just one or two acts (although, there should be two, Megan) of carelessness can change the pace of things in an instant.
Both Sally Field & Paul Newman work excellent together & bring to the table the depth needed to make the film work.
It's an interesting film that focuses on the importance of morals & ethics much more than typical Hollywood themes. In many ways it's rather low key but it's an interesting watch.
(1981) Absence Of Malice
SOCIAL COMMENTARY DRAMA
Somewhat effective but quite outdated, since right now a percentage of people resort to going online to hurt people these days where their was a time newspapers used to do that sort of thing. It's also been done before back in 1931 called "Five Star Final" starring movie icon Edward G. Robinson, for "Absence Of Malice" can be labelled as a much more current version since times had changed from the 1930's. Reporter/ journalist Megan (Sally Field) stumble onto a particular agent's involvement of a reopening of a 20 year old case involving a missing union leader and the connection with a son who's still alive of a one-time well known gangster, his name is Gallagher(Paul Newman). And Gallagher gets harassed both by reporter Megan and by people working for gov't worker in charge of the investigation by the name of Rosen (Bob Balaban) for any possible leads even though their may not be anything to look for. This movie showcases how journalism doesn't often have any limits whatever and whomever it writes about regardless who gets hurt at the end which this movie sometimes question our own ethics regarding what we see, hear and type.
3 out of 4 stars