Saturday, December 20, 2008


ABSENCE OF MALICE is a rather soupy middle-aged romance labouring under its aspirations to be an intelligent discourse about journalistic integrity. Sally Fields plays a grotesquely naive and sloppy writer for a local Miami newspaper. She's suckered into writing an ill-researched piece that accuses a local businessman (Paul Newman) of being involved in the disappearance of labour leader. Newman's character spends the rest of the movie asserting his innocence - despite his shady connections he's so transparently innocent there's not much tension. And to make things even more ludicrous, Sally Field's character even starts an affair with Paul Newman's character. Clearly, director Sydney Pollack and screen-writer (and ex-journo) Kurt Luedtke want to say something deep and meaningful about the sad state of journalism. What they actually end up with is a third-rate romance. Avoid at all costs despite the high-powered cast. BROADCAST NEWS runs rings round this flick.

ABSENCE OF MALICE played Berlin 1982 and opened in 1981 and 1982. Melinda Dillon, Kurt Luedtke and Paul Newman were nominated for Oscars but lost out to Maureen Stapleton (REDS), Colin Welland (CHARIOTS OF FIRE) and Henry Fonda (ON GOLDEN POND) respectively.


  1. There is nothing "soupy" about the romance, and your remarks about its being between "middle aged" people (Fields character is 34) is less than enlightened. The film has quite a bit to say about journalistic ethics, and says it quite well. I'm always intrigued by the critical reception that this
    film receives. It is more telling about the offronted journalists who review it than the film itself.

  2. I am 33. I regard myself as middle-aged. I think the romance is soupy - as defined by a lot of doe-eyed looks from Field toward Newman and some rather hammy dialogue. I am not a journalist by trade. Face it, this movie has none of the biting satire or intellectual sophistication of movies like Broadcast News or Network.