Absence of Malice

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"In America can a man be guilty until proven innocent?"
  • PG
  • 1981
  • 1 hr 56 min
  • 6.9  (14,723)
  • 64

Absence of Malice is a powerful drama directed by Sydney Pollack, which premiered in 1981. The film features an all-star cast led by Hollywood legend Paul Newman, who plays the role of Michael Gallagher, a young businessman who becomes the target of an unjust investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Sally Field portrays Megan Carter, a newspaper journalist who is caught in the middle of the controversy, and Bob Balaban plays Elliott Rosen, a Justice Department official who struggles with the morality of his job.

The story revolves around Gallagher, who is unwittingly drawn into the crosshairs of the government after his father's old business associate is murdered. The police, unable to find any leads, start investigating Gallagher, who they suspect may have some involvement in the crime. In the midst of this investigation, Megan Carter, an ambitious reporter, breaks the story of the investigation in her newspaper, thereby jeopardizing Gallagher's reputation and future.

As the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that there is no evidence linking Gallagher to the murder, but the damage has already been done. Gallagher's reputation has been tarnished, and he struggles to clear his name and regain his standing in the community. Meanwhile, Carter is forced to confront the ethical implications of her job as a reporter, as she realizes that her actions may have caused grave harm to an innocent man.

At the center of the drama is the relationship between Gallagher and Carter, which is fraught with tension and mistrust. Gallagher accuses Carter of using him to further her career, while Carter struggles with the guilt of having possibly ruined Gallagher's life. Both actors give stellar performances, with Newman bringing a raw intensity to his portrayal of a man who is pushed to the brink of despair, and Field bringing a poignant vulnerability to her role as a reporter who realizes that her thirst for a scoop may have caused significant harm.

Balaban's character, Rosen, provides a counterpoint to the moral ambiguity that surrounds the investigation. As a civil servant, Rosen is torn between his duties to the government and his conscience. His dilemma highlights the complex nature of the justice system and the challenges faced by those who are tasked with upholding the law.

Throughout the film, Pollack masterfully weaves together themes of power, morality, and the pursuit of truth. The story is a powerful exploration of the consequences of unchecked government power and the importance of ethical journalism. As Gallagher fights to clear his name and Carter grapples with the fallout of her reporting, the film raises important questions about the role of the media in modern society and the implications of being innocent until proven guilty.

Overall, Absence of Malice is a gripping drama that offers a nuanced exploration of complex issues. With its outstanding performances and expert direction, the film stands as a testament to the power of cinema to shed light on the darker corners of human nature. If you're a fan of thought-provoking dramas that tackle complex moral issues, then Absence of Malice is a must-see.

Absence of Malice is a 1981 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 56 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 64.

Absence of Malice
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 56 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (14,723)
  • Metascore