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The Company (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  20 May 2004 (Germany)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 5,338 users   Metascore: 73/100
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Ensemble drama centered around a group of ballet dancers, with a focus on one young dancer (Campbell) who's poised to become a principal performer.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara E. Robertson ...
Harriet (as Barbara Robertson)
Marilyn Dodds Frank ...
Mrs. Ryan
John Lordan ...
Mr. Ryan
Mariann Mayberry ...
Yasen Peyankov ...
Justin's Mentor
Davis C. Robertson ...
Alec - Joffrey Dancer (as Davis Robertson)
Deborah Dawn ...
Deborah - Joffrey Dancer
John Gluckman ...
John - Joffrey Dancer
David Gombert ...
Justin - Joffrey Dancer


An inside look at the world of ballet. With the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Altman follows the stories of the dancers, whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close, as they cope with the demands of a life in the ballet. Campbell plays a gifted but conflicted company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer at a fictional Chicago troupe, with McDowell the company's co-founder and artistic director, considered one of America's most exciting choreographers. Franco plays Campbell's boyfriend and one of the few characters not involved in the world of dance. Written by Andrea Barney <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 May 2004 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

A Companhia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$93,776 (USA) (26 December 2003)


$12,525 (Hong Kong) (9 July 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| | (8 channels)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robert Altman shot 10 ballets in full specially for the film. See more »


After the female dancer finishes her solo, a single male voice is clearly heard shouting "Bravo!" from the audience. The correct word is "Brava", the feminine of bravo. See more »


Alberto Antonelli: Hit the wall! I want you to move!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title is not shown until the end of the opening credits. See more »


Referenced in O Lucky Malcolm! (2006) See more »


Music by Alan Raph and Lee Holdridge
Featured Music Selection: "Summerland"
by Lee Holdridge
Used by arrangement with Rosetta Stone Music
Conducted by Arnie Roth
Featuring the Chicago Children's Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

So Everything's Not So Beautiful at the Ballet After All
18 January 2004 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"The Company" is a lovely commercial for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (for New Yorkers this is in fact the same modern ballet company that used to be based at City Center but left the competitive dance fund raising environment here to have the stage to itself in Chicago).

A labor of love for producer/story writer/star/former dancer Neve Campbell, she was determined to make the first film about a whole company, not just using the dance world for a backdrop of individual melodrama, and with long passages of actual performances. So she brought in the primo director of ensembles, Robert Altman. But clearly she made compromises to get the film made that put his creativity as a director in a straight jacket and only lets his trademark talents fleetingly shine through.

The key was getting the Joffrey's cooperation and I can only imagine the tough negotiations that resulted in this pretty much being a whitewash of the ballet world, or of any creative endeavor, in sharp contrast to the behind-the-scenes reality shows "Project Greenlight" on HBO or "The Fire Within" about Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai" that was on Bravo. I surmise a long list of thou shalt not's that appear to include items such as:

-- no views of the non-artistic administrators, board, or fund raisers (there's a passing exhortation to a flashy choreographer Robet Desrosiers to stay within the budget, but he gets the complicated costumes and sets he wants anyway);

-- no homosexual relationships (there's a passing reference to the dancers AIDS has taken including "Bob", which cognoscenti have to know refers to the company's founder Robert Jeffrey, and Malcolm McDowall as the egotistical artistic director "Alberto Antonelli," a stand-in presumably for current company director Gerald Arpino, urges fellow Italian-American men not to make their boys, like he had to, "hide their ballet shoes");

-- no eating disorders (we do twice hear "Mr. A," half-jokingly, urge the company to eat salads and vegetables and there's one fast, quiet exchange in passing that I think was about diet pills);

-- blame dancers' problems on dysfunctional parents and mentors, recalling that vivid song from "A Chorus Line" - "Everything was beautiful at the ballet" as dancers seek to escape messy situations through temporary perfect beauty.

Altman does get to assert his artistic priorities in a few ways. He effectively seizes on the ageism in dance, showing that it's not just the tyranny of aging bodies, as would affect any athlete, but that dancers with experience speak up for themselves and are more difficult to control in a viciously autocratic environment than ambitious, financially desperate, and, literally, pliable young dancers.

It's also the first time I've seen a camera expose the swarm of acolyte assistants to the director, revealing them as ex-dancers whom "Mr. A" still dismissively calls "babies" and who resent the new stars even as they dance vicariously through them.

The other beautiful Altman touch is when the significant character developments take place not center stage in a crowd but through a look or line happening way in the corner of the screen, like the expression on James Franco, as Cambell's chef beau, when she avoids introducing him to her family amidst a rush of congratulators.

But visually and musically the Joffrey is a wonderful choice, as the choreographers represented range from Arpino to Alwin Nikolais to Laura Dean and MOMIX. A centerpiece danced by Campbell is a sexy Lar Lubovitch pas de deux to the signature song "My Funny Valentine" which is used as a leitmotif, for reasons that still seem murky to me after hearing Altman explain why on "Charlie Rose," throughout the film in versions also by Elvis Costello, Chet Baker, and the Kronos Quartet. The music ranges from classical to jazz to the ethereal pop of Julee Cruise, Mark O'Connor's in-between "Appalachia Waltz", and the lovely score by Van Dyke Parks.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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