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Q&A is a major film by one of our finest mainstream directors. As both a portrait of modern-day corruption and an act of sheer storytelling bravura, it is not to be missed.
It is fascinating the way this movie works so well as a police thriller on one level, while on other levels it probes feelings we may keep secret even from ourselves.
Lumet has a reputation for speed, and when a film doesn’t engage him, as in Family Business, the result seems rushed, sloppy. But in Q&A, with all the actors perfectly cast and on his wavelength, he works wonders. Nolte is electrifying.
Q & A is testimony to the validity of the old adage: a good story, when well told, can never be told too many times.
The Seattle Times
On a visual level, Lumet states this case so well that he doesn't need to hammer it home verbally. [27 Apr 1990, p.3]
The New Republic
If you want glossy New York, see Woody Allen’s Manhattan. If you want the New York that makes people’s faces look the way they do in the subway, see Lumet.
The New York Times
The dialogue is often brutally comic, and individual scenes cut deep. Yet the narrative finally becomes almost impenetrable. The focus that the director would have demanded of another writer is lacking here.
Although the performances are mostly solid (Assante particularly fine throughout), it never quite achieves the harsh, convincing tone it aims for.
More than an average thriller, but far from Lumet's finest hour.
Unfortunately, Lumet isn't the brawny social commentator he would like to be -- he's a Jimmy Breslin manque'. His script chronicles a complex, gargantuan evil, but his insights into urban life haven't progressed beyond those of his earlier films -- the chaos of conflicting interests and cultural hatred is one that by now we're more than familiar with -- and his storytelling style isn't compelling or tightly focused enough to keep our attention from flagging.
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