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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 <andrea808@hotmail..com>
Wonderful, engrossing movie, with much authenticity
﻿THE COMPANY shows several slices of lives (that of the company, and those of various other characters) over a period of a few months or so. So many things happen during that time: large, small, hugely significant, totally mundane, sad, frustrating, thrilling, indifferent. Through it all, there is so much beauty, emotion and human reality. There is also a LOT of wonderful dance, and fascinating, very authentic, glimpses at preparation for, and creation of, real professional ballet performances.
Anyone needing a continuous, linear, 'a, to b, to climax and neat ending' plot will not find that here. The movie has its own rhythms, and was completely engrossing throughout for me, as well as entertaining. I love traditional, straightforwardly plotted movies (good ones, that is, of which there are many), but this movie is its very own animal, and it's wonderful. It is absolutely the most honest, true-to-real-life movie ever made about the life, work and culture of a professional ballet company (not that they are all alike, but there is much that is universal) and some of the people (friends, family, audience members, etc.) who interact with it at times. And, what a treat to have a 'ballet movie' with authentic, good-to-excellent professional dancers in realistic stage performances. (CENTER STAGE was mostly sickeningly ridiculous, and the audition scenes in SAVE THE LAST DANCE were EMBARRASSINGLY bad--they even misspelled Juilliard--oy!)
Always, audience members need to open themselves up, and try to experience a movie (or any piece of art/entertainment) on its own terms. You may like it or not, think it succeeds or not. But you don't go to TERMINATOR 3 expecting it to operate like an intimate, quiet, nuanced character study, and then condemn it because it didn't meet those expectations. With this movie, you just have to relax and accept that you'll be seeing assorted moments, just various pieces and details of lives, and let go of the idea that they'll form into a finite "story" (shouldn't be too hard for Altman fans). For me, the pieces were fascinating enough to make the whole extremely rewarding and beautiful.
By the way, I did find myself caring very much about the characters in THE COMPANY, although differently than I might about the characters in a more traditionally-plotted movie. The characterizations are very real, not "actor-ish," from those who *are* actual actors, as well as those who are not. So many beautiful sequences, but one that really struck me as I watched was as Ry (Campbell's character) arrives home late, after an exciting, triumphant night, prepares for bed, and begins to cry. This sequence is alternated with scenes of one of the male dancers alone in a studio, listening to music, moving to it, trying to begin choreographing a dance.
This is really a wonderful movie, and I hope there are enough people around who appreciate and enjoy this kind of thing, for more such movies to be made. Kudos to Mr. Altman, Ms. Campbell, and all the others involved.
19 of 23 people found this review helpful.
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