Q&A was released in 1990 and was directed by legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet. His previous efforts included Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men. The screenplay, written by Lumet, was based on a book by Edwin Torres, who also wrote Carlito’s Way. The main actors include Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton, Armand Assante and the hirsute Luiz Guzman.
The plot follows a young District Attorney named Al Reilly (Hutton), who must complete a ‘Q and A’ for a seemingly cut and dried shooting, involving beloved cop Mike Brennan (Nolte). However, Brennan is as dirty as they come, and he will do anything to protect both himself and his various interests. A key witness named Roger ‘the dodger’ Montalvo is being sought by all concerned in the case. Securing his testimony is key to Hutton’s success, while Montalvo’s death will help Brennan survive. Also involved is a Puerto Rican drug lord named Bobby Texador (Assante), who happens to be involved with Hutton’s old flame Nancy.
This film has more racist dialogue than you could shake a stick at. The cast includes actors who portray Irish, Black, Puerto Rican and Jewish characters, so there is plenty scope for this kind of language. Most of the racial slurs are used between the police as a means of banter and good humour. As with the majority of Lumet’s films it is set in his beloved New York. Being such a cultural melting pot, it fits this film perfectly. The movie also has a transvestite theme, which is very important to the plot. Key witness Roger Montalvo is a transvestite, which necessitates Brennan’s investigations into that world. This adds a very interesting thread to the story.
The acting in this picture is absolutely superb. Nolte, looking like a massive Great Dane, piled on the pounds to play the hugely intimidating Brennan. He also has a very volatile personality to back up his impressive size. He is a revelation as the ruthless, calculating cop on the edge. Armand Assante, nominated for a Golden Globe for his role, is a testosterone fuelled ball of energy, who lights up the screen. His bickering and bantering with Guzman is hilarious.
The supporting cast is also top-notch. It includes Dominic Chianese (Junior from The Sopranos), Charles S. Dutton, Fyvush Finkel and the wonderful Paul Calderon, who plays Roger Montalvo.
Nolte’s performance is an absolute must-see, which will leave you wondering how he was not nominated for an award. This may be one of the best films you have never heard of. Q. Should you go watch this movie? F***ing A.