Q & A
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Amazon.com A grim, disheartening view of the underside of city life, Q & A is a legal drama with a disturbing twist. Not exactly a whodunit--the guilt of policeman Nick Nolte is established early on--the plot follows the closing of the circle around him. Leading the murder investigation is Timothy Hutton's young, idealistic district attorney Al Reilly, who finds himself battling a fraudulent and cynical culture. Racism, corruption, and political machinations are all added to the mix, resulting in a film that is just a little too dense and slow-moving to capture the imagination. Director Sidney Lumet creates a feeling of enveloping darkness around Hutton, who slowly manages to let the light in and bring the truth to the surface. With an obviously small budget, the film has more of a made-for-television feel than that of a big blockbuster and some of the performances err too much on the side of cliché. The concept of the New York melting pot is fairly effectively dismissed by the film, painting a picture of distrust between communities that often spills into violence, both verbal and physical. Not quite as unremittingly bleak as Harvey Kietel's Bad Lieutenant, Q & A is still a tough, dark piece of cinema. --Phil Udell