peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2023 02 21 QandA

Q&A (1990)

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More Sidney Lumet completism. He co-wrote and directed this as a capstone to his NYC one-good-cop trilogy (alongside Prince of the City and Serpico). The "Q&A" of the title is apparently an interview by a prosecutor paired with dectectives — perhaps putting Australians in mind of the interview — but notably the subject can be the arresting officer.

Early on we're informed of who the bad and good guys are, and that no greys will be tolerated. The plot is often hard to follow, especially towards the end when things get apocalyptic. The romance side-story is feeble, unbelievable and unhelpful. It's wall-to-wall with racist invective (some creative but much of the yo-mumma genre, somewhat equal-opportunity) and the demimonde of gays and trans. It's not quite real and it's not quite a comic book — the lighting, acting etc. of the initial scene makes it feel like we're in for something confected — and so it's a bit unsettling.

The cast is vast and often good to excellent. Nick Nolte leads in his canonical full-on bent mode. Timothy Hutton is a baby-faced sorta semi-innocent Tom Hanks fresh DA. Armand Assante stole a few scenes (and previously the woman) before sliding into cliche. I'd like to think he did what he could. Luis Guzmán is mostly solid in a modulated performance, as is Charles S. Dutton (Cookie's Fortune). And so on.

Roger Ebert: three-and-a-half stars: he wanted to believe. Vincent Canby thought that NYC is somehow all of "urban America".