Q&A (film)

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Q & A
Q&A film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by Burtt Harris
Arnon Milchan
Written by Sidney Lumet
Edwin Torres (book)
Starring Nick Nolte
Timothy Hutton
Armand Assante
Luis Guzmán
Music by Rubén Blades
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Edited by Richard P. Cirincione
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • April 27, 1990 (1990-04-27) (U.S.)
Running time
132 min.
Language English
Budget $6,000,000
Box office $11,207,891

Q & A is a 1990 crime film co-written and directed by Sidney Lumet, based on a novel by New York judge Edwin Torres. It stars Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante.


Aloysius "Al" Reilly (Hutton) is a young assistant district attorney, still wet behind the ears. He is handed a case by homicide chief Kevin Quinn, an inquiry into a shooting by NYPD detective Mike Brennan (Nolte).

Brennan is something of a legend in the department. A tough, crude, decorated officer, he has a hidden dark side as well as a partnership with certain figures of organized crime. Brennan shoots and kills a small-time Puerto Rican hood and then threatens witnesses to testify that he acted in self-defense.

Reilly's case leads him to a Puerto Rican crime boss by the name of Roberto Texador (Assante), nicknamed "Bobby Tex," whose wife Nancy Bosch was once the love of Reilly's life. It results in violent confrontations between Texador, Reilly and the rogue cop Brennan.



To prepare for his role in the film, Timothy Hutton went on squad-car runs with NYPD officers in order to get an idea of the challenges they faced on the streets. Hutton said, "in many cases the hands of the officer on the street are tied".[1] Nick Nolte put on 40 lbs. for the film because he felt that the character he played required it: "Just the sheer mass of brutality. I felt that would be the right kind of thing. He had to be on the edge of his own dissipation".[2]


Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "It is fascinating the way this movie works so well as a police thriller on one level, while on other levels it probes feelings we may keep secret even from ourselves".[3] In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "Great little scenes overshadow bigger, more important ones. Characters come and go at speed. Watching the movie is an entertaining ride, but when it is over it is difficult to remember where, exactly, one has been".[4]

Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "Lumet tries to cram too much in ... But he's onto something, and you can sense his excitement. This is Lumet's boldest film in years -- a combustible drama with a vivid, shocking immediacy. The director is back at the top of his game".[5]

In his review for the Washington Post, Hal Hinson praised Nick Nolte's performance: "This actor doesn't flinch in the least from his character's unsavoriness; instead he seems to glory in his crumpled suits and unwashed hair, as if they were a kind of spiritual corollary. Nolte gives Brennan a kind of monumental brutishness -- he makes him seem utterly indomitable".[6]

USA Today gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "Overkill ultimately wears Q & A down, despite two bravura performances and some Hutton understatement that's adequate to the task. So, too, does unrelenting sordidness, a deadly love angle and a score (Ruben Blades) almost as awful as Cy Coleman's sabotage of Lumet's Family Business".[7]

In his review for the Globe and Mail Rick Groen praised Armand Assante's performance: "in a role that could easily descend into cliche - the crook with a moral code - Assante does his best work to date, always keeping on the safe side of the stereotype".[8] Newsweek magazine's David Ansen wrote, "Nolte, with a big paunch and a walrus mustache, is a truly dangerous presence here; he uses his threatening body and a high, strained voice to stunning, scary effect. Like the movie, Nolte really gets in your face and, for a long time afterwards, sticks in you craw".[9]

Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Q & A is a major film by one of our finest mainstream directors. As both a portrait of modern-day corruption and an act of sheer storytelling bravura, it is not to be missed".[10]


  1. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (April 13, 1990). "At the Movies". The New York Times. p. 8. 
  2. ^ Mitchell, Sean (April 26, 1990). "Nolte Gets Away with Murder". Toronto Star. pp. B1. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 27, 1990). "Q & A". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (April 27, 1990). "Nick Nolte as a Corrupt Detective". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  5. ^ Travers, Peter (April 11, 2001). "Q & A". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  6. ^ Hinson, Hal (April 27, 1990). "Q & A". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  7. ^ Clark, Mike (April 27, 1990). "Forceful acting tries to answer a questionable script". USA Today. pp. 9D. 
  8. ^ Groen, Rick (April 27, 1990). "Q&A". Globe and Mail. 
  9. ^ Ansen, David (May 7, 1990). "The Melting Pot Boils Over". Newsweek. p. 65. 
  10. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (April 27, 1990). "Q&A". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 

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