Absence of Malice (1981)

PG   |    |  Drama, Romance, Thriller


Absence of Malice (1981) Poster

When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of a union head, the man's life begins to unravel.


6.9/10
11,127

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  • Absence of Malice (1981)
  • Bob Balaban in Absence of Malice (1981)
  • Wilford Brimley in Absence of Malice (1981)
  • Paul Newman in Absence of Malice (1981)
  • Sally Field in Absence of Malice (1981)
  • Sally Field in Absence of Malice (1981)

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23 February 2006 | krorie
7
| The Fourth Estate on trial
Paul Newman and Sally Field, though somewhat opposites both in their roles as Michael Colin Gallagher and Megan Carter respectively and in real Hollywood life, mesh and make believable lovers. Megan tells Michael that she is 30 something and doesn't need courting to play in the hay. Michael retorts, "Maybe I do," and drives away. Megan winds up somewhat of a failure both as a newspaper hound and as a liberated female. Then along comes Wilford Brimley in a bit part and runs away with the show. That's saying a lot since the well chosen cast gives it all they've got including ace jobs by Bob Balaban and Melinda Dillon.

The essence of the film is "What is the nature of truth?" What we read in the paper ain't necessarily so. Jibes are poked at bureaucrats too who certainly have problems determining what is truth. As long as the paperwork looks good then so goes the world. With the Horatio Alger success formula still around in the world of big government and big business, empire builders are a dime a dozen. Usually their asses are saved by cover ups and fall guys. In "Absence of Malice" the innocent victim outsmarts the bureaucrats and the Fourth Estate to bring the house of cards down, certainly an anomaly in the 21th century as it was in 1981, maybe even more so.

Admittedly, the film becomes too preachy at times which not only grates on the nerves but also slows the picture down. Yet the well-written script and Sydney Pollack's knowing direction keep it from becoming a total disaster. Not on the level of Pollack's previous "Three Days of the Condor" or his next feature "Tootsie," "Absence of Malice" still packs a wallop.

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