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ABSOLUTE POWER

SYNOPSIS:
Luther Whitney (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran thief, ready to retire. His wife is dead. His daughter Kate (Laura Linney) is estranged. One last heist, at the seriously rich Walter Sullivan (E.G. Marshall) mansion, deserted while the household holidays in Brmuda, together with the servants and staff. But Sullivan’s wife, Christy (Melora Hardin), unexpectedley changed her mind at the last minute, for reasons that become dramatically clear as Luther empties the giant vault, secured behind a one way mirror. As he hides from the unexpected homecoming, he sees the second, much younger Mrs Sullivan entertain a gentleman friend - the President of the United States, Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman). When the rough sex turns to a murder, the secret service, ever protective and present, try to cover it up. Luther is eventually identified as the witness, homicide detective Seth Frank (Ed Harris) is assigned to the case. Then his daughter is used to first bait him, then to frighten him off. Neither trick works, and the scheming Chief of Staff (Judy Davis) is left stranded, as are the secret service goons - and the President. In an act of justice, Luther reveals the truth to Sullivan; but will Sullivan, the President’s close friend and mentor, believe this preposterous story? And if so, what does he - and the rest of those in the know - do?

"There is a taut yet unhurried, almost deliberate pace to the opening first third of Absolute Power, in which the filmmakers relish their own powers: their creative juices flow with ease, too, as these veterans come together for a thriller that plays on Eastwood’s favoured notions of flawed but finally redeemed characters whose private lives are somehow incomplete or broken up by fate. The message is simple and predictable enough: absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even Judy Davis, as the (brilliantly conceived - and played - Chief of Staff), suffers from it. But it’s how these oldies get to it that makes it worth the ticket price. There is writer William Goldman, who’s been round the block a few times, Eastwood of course, as producer, director and star, Hackman, Ed Harris and Glenn Scott . . . even behind the scenes, the experience is awesome, with people like Henry Bumstead on production design. The one ‘youngster’ is cinematographer Jack Green, whose second feature was Twister. This is his third. Dramatically and cinematically, the film is fabulous until, the final third of its two hours, when everyone tries a tad too hard, from scriptwriter to director. (And I do wish we’d seen a First Lady somewhere.) But even so, the premise is gripping, the entire cast is great and the scenes between Eastwood and Harris are cinema magic. "
Andrew L. Urban

"Clint Eastwood brings his classy direction and style to this rather controversially plotted political thriller. The first of two White House-linked murder films to grace our screens this year (Murder at 1600 is due for release in October), Absolute Power takes a fascinating premise and engages us in an enthralling journey of mind games and action with great skill. Tense and exciting with a top cast, Absolute Power is stunning entertainment; the thinking person, I believe, will get the most out of this one. The development of all the characters is done with ease, and it is not until the last quarter of the film, that the flaw in the script begins to show. Perhaps the sensitivity of the topic, and the writers’ concern to be discreet in the handling of the unthinkable scenario.… But having said that, there is much to enjoy. Clint Eastwood is in fine form here, with a character who is perhaps not as flawed as we initially are led to believe. Gene Hackman, always strong, is magnetic and complex; Judy Davis has great presence as the Chief of Staff; Ed Harris - a hugely talented actor somehow beams rays of credibility in every role. Watch for the scene when Eastwood and Harris are having coffee together, chatting about the required skills of a master thief. There is so much business going on; we really feel the spontaneity of the moment. The first few scenes are real attention grabbers, as through the two-way mirror, we join Clint Eastwood’s character, Luther in watching the perverted, brutal proceedings. What we see is enticingly forbidden, yet irresistible all at once. Powerful and provocative in its premise and consequence, Absolute Power is absorbing, shocking and thoroughly entertaining."
Louise Keller

"Clint Eastwood's latest thriller comes with a lot of pre-sale baggage. After all, American reviews were rather dismissive, box office was relatively disappointing, it took several months for the film to get here, and the media (in Sydney) wasn't able to see it until the night before commercial release. By definition, it must be a turkey, right? Wrong. While it may not be as accomplished as Eastwood's Unforgiven, as a thriller it's an involving, intricate and intelligent work, one that takes the viewer on not so much a rollercoaster ride, as a deliberate and intriguing tram journey through various nooks and crannies.While Absolute Power, featuring a literate screenplay by William Goldman, is certainly flawed, it's nevertheless engrossing and entertaining enough to make it above average in an overcrowded genre. Eastwood acts the way he directs, without overdoing it, subtly yet with increased fascination. He's still a pleasure to watch on screen. The opening robbery sequence, during which Luther watches the progress of a violent sexual encounter, is fascinating. He communicates with nothing but eyes and expressive face, and it's wonderful to watch. Eastwood is in excellent company on screen, especially by the wonderful Ed Harris whose sly, laconic cop is a marvel, while Judy Davis has some moments to relish - in particular a dance sequence with the President. Hackman is the only problem, playing a one-note, unpresidential President in a very typical, Hackman way. There's little room for him to move. Despite some incongruous plot moments, Absolute Power is a witty and engaging thriller, a film that may be short on action, but its relaxed, careful style gives the film a unique and intriguing edge. Most importantly, it's a darn good yarn, more than competently told."
Paul Fischer

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ABSOLUTE POWER (MA)
(US)

CAST: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Dennis Haysbert, E.G. Marshall, Melora Hardin

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

PRODUCER: Clint Eastwood, Karen Spiegel

SCRIPT: William Goldman (based on the novel by David Baldacci)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack N. Green

EDITOR: Joel Cox

MUSIC: Lennie Niehaus

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Henry Bumstead

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 14, 1997

VIDEO RELEASE: August 9, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar







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