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5.0 out of 5 stars ABSENCE OF AWESOME!
...and by 'Absence Of Awesome', I mean quite the opposite. This movie IS awesome! Paul Newman ignites the screen with kerosene soaked he-man sexiness. Those blue eyes may seem cold, but they burn through you like a small child using a magnified glass to burn a small ant on the pavement at recess! Sally Field is as radiant as a Jamaican sunrise as she splashes her acting...
Published on Aug. 30 2001 by pauly

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good performances...ethics be damned
The issue of leaking information to the press has been around for years, and this film does its best to illustrate how badly it can backfire when the sources aren't properly checked and re-checked.
Having said that, and being a journalist myself, I just want to shoot Sally Field for her gross violations of journalist ethics. Getting involved with the subject? No...
Published on April 18 2000 by Steve S.


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4.0 out of 5 stars The dangers of the public spotlight, Aug. 20 2003
Not quite a star-studded flick, but chock full of subtly forceful personalities. Paul Newman plays Gallagher, a crusty but otherwise legit Florida-based liquor wholesaler whose life is turned upside-down when the Miami Standard fingers him as a possible material witness. Under current laws regarding libel, Newman can always sue the paper for libel. However, the law sets a higher standard of wrongdoing to be proven when the victim is a public-figure. (The distinction was meant to prevent public officials from using libel laws to block any criticism of their actions - most notably in the case of southern police officials during the early civil-rights years; unfortunately for Gallagher, the laws have been expanded to cover any figure in the public eye, whether he's there by choice or despite it.) Because the Standard acts without malice, and only reports what's been leaked to it by a shifty DoJ official (Bob Balaban), the fact that the story itself is actually incorrect is irrelevant. While DoJ hopes to pressure Gallagher to turn state's evidence, or somehow lead them to somebody who can, the newspaper hopes Gallagher will come forward and give his own spin. (Exaggeration is an often-used media tactic - one hoped to pressure a story's subject to reflexively come forward and give a story that, while less spectacular, is nonetheless worse off now that it's been confirmed.) While Gallagher comes forward, and hooks up with Sally Field as the Standard's ace reporter, he soon finds another way to wreak havoc - by turning his enemies against each other.
There's something satisfying about the deceptive ease with which Gallagher turns the media against itself, but the resolution is unsatisfying. Wilford Brimley plays the Assistant Attorney General who gets everybody honest by threatening to make people talk under oath. (We get the point, people have no problem saying anything as long as they don't have to stand by it.) The last scene is essentially Brimley's one-man show, one that upstages Sally Fields's character's turn-about: rather than disclose Gallagher as the source of her latest story, she's willing to take the fall for him. Her logic is impeccable - somebody is going to take the blame and the fall no matter what. Why not her? If anything, the film disappoints in underplaying the attraction between the two, which only makes you wonder whether her denouement is one of journalistic integrity or love. Instead, we cheer that Brimley will get to tell the media what he thinks (and nobody in this room is going to like what I have to say, he warns) and the way he exacts retribution (you're no White House appointee, he tells Balaban's character. "The one who hired you, is me." Start packing).
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4.0 out of 5 stars On The Record / Off The Record, Jan. 17 2002
One of the worries of journalists everywhere is to keep an protect the source. The source is where all the information comes from. Once you've got a source another point comes up: how reliable this person is. It is very easy to anyone go to a reporter tell something -- that's not necesseraly true -- and his/her statement is published. So a good professional would surely investigate and print the news once it is proved to be true. But this can happen only in a ideal world. Let's face the truth: journalist do not have too much time to comfirm or deny informations. Nowadays with the internet, the readers want new news all the time and the fight for the click has shorted the deadlines.
It is in this time of digital press that film made in the 80s' turns out to be very interesting and provocative, due to its timeless subject. Sally Field plays a reporter of a major Miami's Newspaper who has fallen in a trap. She has no qualms when having the chance to peep a file about a man accused of kidnapping and killing a working class leader. Moreover, she gets involved with this man who in the end happens to be her reliable source. Telling more than this would mean give some interesting twists of the movie.
As aforementioned, the movie tackles ethic in journalism, and, let's face it, Sally's character is not that ethical with her sources. She does most of the things that someone expected to be fair and accurate wouldn't do, like not confirming information or publishing off record statements -- plus she sleeps with her source. Some in-love hearts would justify it saying that love is above everything, but I don't agree. What kind of professional is she?
Tlaking about the movie itself, it is very entertaining. Sally Field gives a good performance, but who is great as usual is Paul Newman. His perfornance is very subtle and full of nuances. Bob Balaban is terrific and a bit hateful as agent who comes down to be the prime source to Sally's reporter, detonating a sequence of inacuratte reports.
It is impossible to watch this movie and not to rise questions like how accure all the stuff we read in newspapers, magazines, internet is; and also when is an information so important that it has to be published, even when the source asks it to ve off the record. One interesting example would be when a reporter is working on a piece about two guys missing in the sea and a Lt. tells her that there are sharks in the area. But Sally tells her not to mention it in her article, because it may scare turists, so the solution is to say that is an area with many fishes. Then how true is her piece?
All in all, nowadays, as the press has to be faster, there's less time to check information. So the readers are much more liable to read untrue stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ABSENCE OF AWESOME!, Aug. 30 2001
By 
pauly (Toronto, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
...and by 'Absence Of Awesome', I mean quite the opposite. This movie IS awesome! Paul Newman ignites the screen with kerosene soaked he-man sexiness. Those blue eyes may seem cold, but they burn through you like a small child using a magnified glass to burn a small ant on the pavement at recess! Sally Field is as radiant as a Jamaican sunrise as she splashes her acting abilities throughout the movie like a farmer sowing seed in his freshly plowed field! The plot is as complex as Einstien's theory of relativity, and with the same effect: once completed, both the movie and the theory of relativity result in an atomic expolsion that can bend time and space. There isn't actually an explosion at the end of the movie, per se, but perhaps in the director's cut he'll put one in. I can't sing my praises ENOUGH for this movie, but if I DID, it would be a chorus line of dancing girls kickin' out a medley of showtunes with ME as the lead, wearing a sequined blue suit and a curly moustache singing my own falsetto version of 'Workin' In a Coalmine' (The Devo Version).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Commitment? To whom? For what?, Oct. 19 2000
By 
Eugene L. Stickley "Gene Stickley" (Havertown, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When Sally Field is asked if she was "involved" with suspect Newman she answered that no it was not true but yes it was accurate. They had been lovers but her trust was in something "professional." Or was it ambition?
Sally, as a reporter who wanted to get ahead, was bent on getting "a story." Newman, in an effort to get some help against what was media harrassment, invites Sally to lunch. This turns into a budding romance or at least friendship. But when "new evidence" comes in against Newman she chooses to go after the story once again.
Newman managed to set up the local Federal and State prosecutors AND the local newspapers, for a publicity embarrassment. It worked. Sally believed her "sources" rather than Newman. She couldn't rise above her "professionalism" to believe a friend. She, too, became caught in an embarrassing trap.
The Trap is snapped shut by Wilford Brimley, playing an Assistant Attorney General of the US. Brimley's handling of the climatic face to face meeting of the various parties involved is a cinema delight not to be missed.
On the serious side our vulnerability to official and media harassment was well defined, for me, by this story. It also takes a stab at the difficult question of how and why we accept truth.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific acting and issues which remain relevant today, May 29 1999
By A Customer
Sally Field is an earnest but ambitious newspaper reporter who skirts the boundaries of journalism ethics - a term not yet regarded as an oxymoron when this movie came out in the early 80s - and Paul Newman is the unfairly indicted son of a south Florida mobster. Field chases her story with unintended tragic consequences and sparks fly between her and Newman, in more ways than one.
The real strength of the movie is in the fine acting. Newman and Field are in top form but it is the supporting roles which catch your attention. The then little known character actor Wilford Brimley shows up in the third reel as a down-home U.S. prosecutor and walks off with the movie. "At the end of today two things are gonna be true that ain't true now. One is we're going to know what in the good Christ has been going on down here, and two is I'm going to have somebody's ass in my briefcase." "Wonderful thing, subpeenees." Bob Balaban is also vivid as an overzealous prosecutor whose ruse sets the plot in motion.
If you like this one, you may also like "Independence Day." Not the recent studio blockbuster starring Will Smith but a "small" movie from the early 80s featuring tight writing and a terrific ensemble cast, with Kathleen Quinlan and David Keith in the leading parts and Dianne Wiest in an unforgettable supporting role.
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4.0 out of 5 stars REVENGE WITHOUT BULLETS, June 17 2003
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
When you watch the theatrical trailer of ABSENCE OF MALICE, you are lead to think that this movie describes Paul Newman's revenge and will contain a lot of violent scenes. This is not true. In fact, has a trailer ever described accurately a movie ?
ABSENCE OF MALICE is, in the first place, an "actor" movie, with two stars of 1981 : Paul Newman and Sally Field. The secondary roles are also well written and interesting. The movie belongs to the category of moral movies and tries to defend these two ideas :
- Things and people are not always what or who they seem to be.
- The newspapers should have the duty to verify their sources before printing anything.
The treatment of the subject is well done, the screenplay being sometimes too weak. But Sydney Pollack, with this material, was able to present a conventional but still watchable movie.
A DVD zone moral education
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5.0 out of 5 stars "You got your selves.", Jan. 27 2004
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Elliott Rosen is an obsessive prosecutor who is desperate to get some inside info on the "mob." He steps in to a moral grey area in his pursuit. Knowing that Michael Colin Gallagher (Paul Newman) is innocent of any crime he plans to push him into finding out who did it. The plan is simple he will leak the false fact out, through reporter Megan Carter (Sally Field), that Gallagher is being investigated. This information has a negative impact on Gallagher's business. Further pursuit leads to a death of the innocent. Naturally the paper that prints this has no intention of retracting. Gallagher finds a unique solution. See if you can spot it.
This movie does not make an immediate impact on you with the exception of Brimley's final confrontation speech. However repeated viewing brings out the subtleties that will make this one of your favorite movies for years to come.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good performances...ethics be damned, April 18 2000
By 
The issue of leaking information to the press has been around for years, and this film does its best to illustrate how badly it can backfire when the sources aren't properly checked and re-checked.
Having said that, and being a journalist myself, I just want to shoot Sally Field for her gross violations of journalist ethics. Getting involved with the subject? No how, no way. It just isn't done. If you can accept this HUGE leap of journalistic and editorial faith, then the rest of the movie is a breeze.
Aside from Newman, I think the best performance in the movie is one of the briefest...Wilford Brimley as the U.S. Attorney who gets to the bottom of the mess. It's just a pleasure to watch him go through the paces of tearing Bob Balaban's little vendetta all to pieces, and to experience his grudging approval to let Newman walk.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ABSENCE OF MALICE!, Sept. 28 2001
By 
Michael Anthony Brenton (The Other Side of the Known Universe) - See all my reviews
SEE the star of "Cool Hand Luke" and "The Sting" attack the star of "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun!" in this CRITICAL EXAMINATION of the FOURTH ESTATE! Is PAUL NEWMAN involved with organized crime or is he AN INNOCENT MAN? Does journalist SALLY FIELD care about the TRUTH or just getting the STORY? Written by former reporter KURT LUETKE, enjoy this study of the POWER and PRIVILEGE of the PRESS! SEE Wilford Brimley come in at the end and put everybody in their place! Another social commentary film from director SYDNEY POLLACK!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ending one of the best I have seen, Oct. 8 2001
By 
Harold E. Quillin (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
I have never seen Paul Newman take a back seat in acting untill Wilford Brimley takes charge and sets everyone straight. Best ending to a movie I have ever seen. I rewatch it every year or so and really love having it on DVD now.
Harold
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Absence of Malice [Blu-ray] [Import]
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