When a prosecutor leaks to a Miami reporter that a liquor wholesaler is suspected in the murder of a union head, the man's life begins to unravel.When a prosecutor leaks to a Miami reporter that a liquor wholesaler is suspected in the murder of a union head, the man's life begins to unravel.When a prosecutor leaks to a Miami reporter that a liquor wholesaler is suspected in the murder of a union head, the man's life begins to unravel.
- (as Anna Marie Napoles)
- Walker - Standard's Photographer
- (as Rooney Kerwin)
Requiem for two heavyweights...
I taped this lauded 80's movie months ago and prompted by the recent death of Paul Newman, finally made time to watch it, only realising as I did so that its director too, Sydney Pollack, has also lately taken his last bow. The film is about the corrupting power of trial by newspaper to damage and sometimes destroy innocent lives and in this particular case of one man's courage and ingenuity in fighting back, even for what seems in the end a Pyrrhic victory against his malefactors. Pollack's favoured ouevre certainly seemed to be contemporary thrillers, often positing a faceless establishment body, personified by dehumanised no-names and their usually destructive oppression of innocent individuals. Although dated by things like contemporary fashions and background music, (no-one surely can defend this era for its style and music!) these films (and there were loads of them in the mid 70's and early 80's - "All the President's Men", "Dog Day Afternoon", "The Verdict", to name but a few, often directed by the two Sydneys, Pollack and Lumet, and peopled by acting heavyweights like Pacino, Redford, Newman, Winger and Fonda) represent a largely neglected sub-genre of quality movie-making rarely seen today. The film at hand here, "Absence of Malice" occasionally lacks narrative drive and suspense but makes up for that with everyday realism, for example drawing in themes on disparate subjects like abortion and trade-union relations. With Pollack's usual high-standard cinematography, particularly his naturally-lit interiors and indeed exteriors, you always feel that this fictional story could actually be happening here and now. It's helped by good dialogue and the skills of the ensemble acting cast. Newman walks away with the acting plaudits, effortlessly drawing the viewer's sympathy and admiration although I was very impressed by Melinda Dillon's underplaying of her part as Newman's "close personal friend", caught in the cross-fire and also Wilford Brimley's cameo as the State Department official who effectively acts as judge and jury at the mini-courtroom climax. Sally Field, who was briefly, at this time, the it-girl for modern-day character parts, lacks some heft alongside the predominantly male cast and at times plays the part more like Jean Arthur than Faye Dunaway. You can also see her acting at key points, particularly in the scene when Newman loses his temper and almost assaults her. Despite a brief (perhaps unnecessary) romantic liaison between the two leads, the film ends satisfyingly with an enigmatic shot of Newman sailing (literally) into the sunset leaving a chastened Field behind. In conclusion then, an intelligent, thought-provoking, well-structured and plotted movie, its main theme still relevant today in tabloid-land.
- Oct 3, 2008
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