Absence of Malice | Chicago Reader

Absence of Malice

The invective against the press and the First Amendment contained in Sydney Pollack's 1981 film is probably its least objectionable aspect: the picture has a smug, demoralizing sense of pervasive corruption, putting forward the Paul Newman character (a businessman libeled by reporter Sally Field) as the last good and true human being in the United States. Still, for all of its simplemindedness and deck stacking, the film is distressingly well made—Pollack is no artist, but he has a glistening technique (there aren't many American directors left who know how to plan their shots for such smooth cutting) and a strong sense of how to hold, cajole, and gratify an audience. With Bob Balaban, Melinda Dillon, Josef Sommer, and Wilford Brimley.

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