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Absence of Malice

  PG Closed Captioning

Sydney Pollack

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Plot Summary

In America, can a man be guilty until proven innocent? Suppose you picked up this morning's newspaper and your life was a front page headline... and everything they said was accurate but not true. This is the dilemma that must be faced in this timely drama about the incredible power of the press. Michael Gallagher (played by Paul Newman in an Oscar®-nominated role) reads in the paper that he is the subject of a criminal investigation. Suddenly, everything he has ever worked for is in jeopardy. He confronts the author, Megan Carter (Sally Field), a relentless investigative reporter. Together they learn that the story was purposely leaked to Carter as part of a plot by the chief investigator. Gallagher's life hangs in the balance as he and Carter try to uncover the truth.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 22
  • Fresh: 19
  • Rotten: 3
  • Average Rating: 6.7/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: What Mr. Pollack's movies lack in momentum, they make up for in quiet gravity. – Janet Maslin, New York Times, Jul 16, 2008

Fresh: Absence of Malice does not invalidate All the President's Men. But with entertainment values -- and a moral sense -- every bit as high as that film's, it observes that there is an underside to journalistic gallantry. – Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: A splendidly disturbing look at the power of sloppy reporting to inflict harm on the innocent. – Variety Staff, Variety, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: I not only liked this movie despite its factual and ethical problems -- I'm not even so sure they matter so much to most viewers. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, Jul 7, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

One of my favorite films!

Although a bit 'dated' (newspaper publishing has come a LONG way since the 80's) this film is not only well written and well acted it also has something to say. The Valerie Plame 'situation' of a few years ago highlighted the question of journalists and their sources and just how much protection the Constitution provides. This film does a wonderful and effective job of dealing with this complex issue. Paul Newman and Sally Field provide the core for an excellent cast that weaves a very compelling story from multiple perspectives. Wilford Brimley's scene at the end of this film alone is worth the price of the film. It's one of those 'sleepers' similar to 'Shawshank' in that it is quite powerful in a very quiet way.

Wilford Brimley's Best Scene Ever

Sydney Pollack made this one with Newman, and Three Days of the Condor with Redford. Both show you don't need car chases and explosions to have suspense. Wilford Brimley steals this movie without breaking a sweat.

Brilliant movie - important questions, exceptional acting

The technology of the news business has changed in the last 30 years, but the fundamental questions of journalism ethics remain. How should a reporter deal with leaked information? What obligation do they have to their sources? What obligation do they have toward people they report on?

These ethical questions are at the core of Absence of Malice. Sally Field and Paul Newman star respectively as a newspaper reporter and a liquor distributor who is under investigation surrounding the death of a union leader. Melinda Dillion has a touching supporting role as Newman's troubled friend.

Absence of Malice
View In iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 1998

Customer Ratings

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