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The acting by a stream of well known faces who were young I when I was
also young are very good, and being a similar age as them I could
relate to some of what they were experiencing in the story. I listened
to a review on the radio criticising the movie because of the
difficulty of enjoying watching people past their prime in a suspense
movie. Maybe the reviewer should have stuck to the Bourne movies to get
Well age has nothing to do with it but maturity certainly does. The appealing theme here is that we don't leave our past so far behind us that it doesn't exert any major influence on us years later. In fact the more years that pass the more significant the past can become. I suggest you don't be put off by the negativity of what some others say and see the movie.
Although not one of Redford's best, "The Company You Keep" is still way better than the majority of so called thriller/dramas produced these days in my humble opinion...excellent acting all round, Redford is good as usual (if looking a little too old maybe for this role) and the supporting cast (Cooper, Tucci, Christie and Gleeson in particular) are a credit as well. Whilst there are not a lot of twists and surprises that you can't see coming, it's the way the story is told and unfolds, and it makes you think about your ideals and sacrifices and plotted that really counts. Although I'm a Brit in my 40's and the material is not familiar to myself at all I really enjoyed the ride. Solid, if not spectacular, but definitely worth the time to view.
The Company You Keep has a startlingly star-studded cast and I was
surprised to see that most of them were in small, thankless roles.
People like Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper and Stanley Tucci
have a couple, three scenes at most and aren't given much of anything
to sink their teeth into. What I think this suggests is an immense
respect for Robert Redford - there are very few directors who could
assemble actors of that caliber for roles that probably anyone could
play. And that respect is merited - with Company, Redford proves once
again that he is an exceptionally talented director who deserves to be
taken more seriously than he is.
It begins with the abrupt arrest of Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), an American terrorist who had been living in hiding for decades since she was connected to a robbery that resulted in the murder of a security guard. Her arrest sparks renewed interest in the case and as a reporter (Shia LaBeouf) starts to dig deeper, a lawyer and newly single father (Robert Redford) realizes he is about to be uncovered and flees, leaving his daughter to stay with his younger brother (Chris Cooper) while he searches for an unknown something.
The foundation of Company is a clever, taut screenplay reminiscent of classic 70's American thrillers. It shocks the audience with reveal after reveal, always bringing up more questions and arousing more suspicions, but does so without a hint of self-importance and gracefully avoids inflated tension. Redford's graceful direction brings the electric writing to life and creates a suitably foreboding atmosphere - it's gritty, but not too dark; fast-paced, but not so much that it sacrifices plot or character; emotional, but not saccharine. For such an outlandish plot, Redford makes it feel as real as it possibly could. Too many modern thrillers like this try to make every beat into a high emotion scene, or build around the twist so it's as dramatic as possibly. Company avoids that - there is a refreshing lack of forced grandeur, and in its wake we get a surprisingly intimate film filled with truly fascinating characters and provocative moral questions that the screenplay doesn't answer for us.
The cast, as expected, are uniformly excellent. If there is a weak link it's Shia LeBeouf, whose real-life smug vanity suits the character but can only carry him so far when he's up against acting titans. He seems amateurish in his one-on-one scenes with Redford and Sarandon even though neither of them give especially domineering performances. Redford is an appropriately sympathetic lead but the supporting actors steal the movie - Susan Sarandon sets the bar very high right from the off. In her two or three short scenes, she reveals everything about her secretive, stony character; her microexpressions tell all. Cooper, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott and Richard Jenkins light up their segments with their presences alone, while Brendan Gleeson delivers a hauntingly conflicted portrayal.
Julie Christie, though, is the standout. If this has to be her last screen appearance, it's comforting to know that she went out with a loud bang, playing a character so unlike anything she's ever done before. Her Mimi is ferocious and spirited, but her steely conviction can't quite mask the naive little girl who never really grew up hiding underneath. She communicates a world of internal conflict with a simple raise of her eyebrows, a pang of regret merely by letting her mouth fall open; she's a master of her craft, fully realizing her character in maybe 15 minutes of screen time where most of her lines hit the same note.
If there's one problem with the movie, it's that it's too short. A significant plot point towards the end isn't given the time and attention it deserves, considering its weight and implications. It felt like a wasted opportunity for an amazing, thematically fathoms-deep ending. However, the ending as it is is satisfying and well-done nonetheless, and cleanly wraps up an expertly crafted breath of fresh air for the genre. If only it had come out 35 years ago where it would have been right at home and probably would have garnered a better reception.
"When we revolt it's not for a particular culture. We revolt simply
because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe." Frantz Fanon
In Robert Redford's The Company You keep, Jim Grant (Redford) is an attorney on the lam for participating in Weather Underground anti-Vietnam activities over 40 years ago. That a bank robbery resulted in the death of a guard has made the revolutionaries fugitives from murder charges.
This political thriller, in which the FBI has finally zeroed in on the robbers because Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) has decided to turn herself in, devolves into a formulaic chase with helicopters and frantic cell calls, but along the way has some engaging dialogue ("Yeah we all died. Some of us just came back." Donal Fitzgerald, played by Nick Nolte) often given in the repartee style of screwball comedy without the comedy.
I am most surprised at director Redford's political restraint, given his inclination to preach baldly in previous films and in his personal life. The Company You Keep smoothly combines the pacing of a race for survival with the consciousness of a moderate liberal trying to show the unglamorous effects of sins, like excessive ambition and murder, over a lifetime. In its favor the film does not overdo its sympathy for the kids of these radicals, although Brit Marling as Rebecca Osborne would make anyone cry over her, so innocent-looking she is.
While the film tends to emphasize the personal effects on lovers and families to the exclusion of the Weatherman history, it still is instructive about the radical movements decades ago. Although the theme of the ramifications of keeping a secret are parsed by Grant in a too-contrived monologue, the point is well taken, for each secret revealed adds another layer of punishment for all, even children.
If Redford weren't so wrapped up in nostalgia and stuck to the hard-core reasons for some very bright people's stupidity, this could have been a soaring achievement of documenting history in dramatic form. As it is, it's a smart thriller that has some lessons, both political and personal, for all the audience.
Robert Redford stars with a wonderful cast of golden oldies in "The
Company You Keep," a 2012 film.
Redford plays Jim Grant, an attorney and widower, who is contacted by a friend to help a former activist (Susan Sarandon). Now a housewife, she has just been arrested for the murder of a bank guard during a robbery many years earlier. At that time, she was a member of the notorious underground Weathermen group, which protested the Vietnam war, the killings at Kent State, and were part of the violence and chaos of the time. She was intending to turn herself in, but the FBI got to her first.
Grant says he can't help, but that puts an ambitious reporter, Ben Shepard (Shia LeBoeuf) onto him. It doesn't take long for Shepard to find out that Jim Grant is in reality Nick Sloan, part of the Weathermen, who has changed his identity. Grant/Sloan goes on the run, leaving his 11-year-old daughter with his brother (Chris Cooper). This tells the reporter that Sloan is not intending to go underground and take on a new identity, or he would have taken his daughter. Shepard thinks that Sloan is thing to clear his name once and for all, and is trying to locate other Weathermen in order to help him.
The cast includes, besides those listed above, Julie Christie, Stanley Tucci, Sam Elliot, Nick Nolte, and Brit Marling.
I had two major problems with this film, which was actually good if not terribly suspenseful. The first is, I was around during the era talked about in the film; and the second thing is, I remember what Robert Redford used to look like.
This film I believe is supposed to take place in the present day, yet everyone talks about these events that occurred "thirty years ago." Well, not to be picky, but "thirty years ago" is what, 1981, since the film was made in 2011. Youthful uprisings, protests against Vietnam, the Kent State killings -- I'm sorry, those happened 40-45 years ago. What happened thirty years ago? Dynasty. Ebony and Ivory. Diana and Charles got engaged. Reagan.
The second issue I had is this: Susan Sarandon, Richard Jenkins, and Stephen Root were the right age to play aging hippies (so is Chris Cooper but he didn't play one); Christie I could buy - first of all, she's fabulously beautiful and doesn't look her age - and secondly, her character was a Jane Fonda type, so she would have been active in her early thirties, as the character still was an activist. Nick Nolte - I'm not totally convinced that his character was an activist in his late twenties and thirties.
But Robert Redford is 76. Now, I've read where people think he looks good. I think he looks every millisecond of 76. He's obviously supposed to be playing someone 10 years younger, and to me, he doesn't pull it off. And the 11-year-old daughter - I find that interesting. They cast women as mothers who in real life are one year older than the person playing their sons, but no one blinks when Redford or Eastwood have children under ten.
Unfortunately, those distractions took away from this film for me. If I hadn't lived through that time, I could have gotten into it more. I admire Robert Redford, I like that he does this type of film, but he needs a small reality check. He wasn't a hippie then, and he's not an aging hippie now.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Redford can certainly muster an impressive list of acting
talent, but this film is a reminder that there is more to a good film
Like many others at TIFF this year, particularly baby boomers like myself, I was keen to see how Redford would go about dealing with an especially controversial aspect of recent American history. The premise here is compelling: members of the Weather Underground who are accused of murder after what appears to have been a bungled bank robbery have gone to ground, have built lives with varying degrees of success and respectability, only to have it all reopened years later when one of them decides to turn herself in. An earnest young reporter at a small newspaper is given (or seizes) the opportunity to dig into the story and finds out more than he bargained for.
There are several problems, though. For one, the film pulls its main punch, and telegraphs that move so early on that the natural tension is never allowed to build. I know that Redford is an old-fashioned movie star, and the prospect of his having actually been guilty is perhaps just not in the cards, but knowing this in the first few minutes makes the rest of the story rather unsuspenseful. Instead of wondering whether this (frankly rather dull) single father really did what he was accused of, we are left with watching him try to exonerate himself in a cross-country odyssey that is implausible and often tedious.
To be sure, there are some fine performances. The scene between Susan Sarandon and Shia LaBeouf in prison, as she tries, with only limited success, to explain herself to a sceptical and ambitious young journalist from such a different era, is very convincing.
Redford himself, though, does not really command our attention or interest. If you're going to star in your own movie, you should be sure that you really are the best choice for the role. At the age of 76 (and yes, despite being fit and well put together, he really does look his age), Redford is at least ten years older than his role would demand. And he has a 12 year old daughter!
Moreover, he fails to infuse the role with any real passion. Now, raw emotion has never been Redford's strong suit. He is just too cool for that. But here is a role that really calls out for something other than his typical calculated, rational, "nice guy" approach.
As a director, Redford is more successful. For movie buffs, it's fun to watch the train scene, for example, (how many directors have train scenes anymore?) which pays homage to some of the great train scenes from older suspense films like North by Northwest.
With this subject matter, The Company You Keep could have been an edgy and provocative political thriller, with a resonance that makes connections between the student terrorism of the 1970's and the burning economic and social issues of today. The fact is that many of the same underlying problems that led to the formation of the Weathermen - foreign military involvement, economic disparities, reactionary social policies - remain with us. Instead, however, the film never really brings itself to confront these issues except in the most oblique and politically correct fashion. It is an opportunity squandered.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are at all familiar with Robert Redford's recent productions,
you may very well have noticed that he is, as director and producer,
very much interested in character development within unique stories,
whether he co-stars in the movie or not. He also has a knack at picking
a good cast; such is the case here with Shia Labeouf, Susan Sarandon,
Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Brendan
Gleeson and Julie Christie.
Redford plays a former political activist, Jim Grant, on the run for thirty years for terrorist related charges including murder; having built a new life, widowed with a teenage daughter, he is found out by up and coming reporter Ben Shepard, played by Shia LaBeouf. Shepard's boss, played by Stanley Tucci, reluctantly provides him the support to pursue the story. Grant entrusts his daughter to his brother, played by Chris Cooper, whilst FBI agent played by Terrence Howard is hot on his heels. Shepard suspects Grant is not guilty of the charges but the reporter's quest for the truth unravels secrets Grant has kept for very personal reasons. With the help of old friends and sympathizers, played by Nick Nolte and Brendan Gleeson, Grant eludes the FBI for a while. To mention more would spoil your pleasure to discover how all the guilt floating around is dealt with and how Shepard's life is changed, not to mention other characters lives as well.
I had expectations from such a cast and from the basic promotional synopsis; I was not disappointed, nor will you.
Being a child of the times this movie was about, I cannot say enough about the authenticity of the feelings of those portrayed in the film. An important movie of a time lost, to the "new" technology of the gen-X. No cell phones, no computers. Our communication was with actual feelings and underground, unheard, simple word of mouth to those whose cares were for a better world, without war. That we were unheard at the time caused the radical behavior of some who put their lives on the line for some kind of justice to happen. We can't be the great Country that we are without paying some kind of price. There is no free lunch. And as we are all beginning to notice some of us don't have a lunch to eat, still. Make a difference. Stop tweeting and start feeding.
I AM CONVINCED THE CONSERVATIVE PRESS MISSED THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE
While I'm totally conservative, the talking heads that trashed this film blew it completely.
This film does not glorify terrorism. Quite the opposite. It shows how a person can cross the line from being an "activist" to being a felon/terrorist. It is sort of a retrospective of an activist's two lives - one he abandoned once he crossed the line, the other, the stolen life he built afterward.
There is a price one pays to the public through the court system. There is also a private price, or a personal price one also pays. In both cases,the focus is more on the private price he foisted off on loved ones to avoid paying his public price for his acts.
(The reader must understand that Sloan was guilty of some felony activities, but NOT the murder of the bank guard. His crimes, if caught, were worth some jail time, but not a life sentence for murder.)
People should watch this just so they could consider the idea that actions they might start can easily spin out of control, leaving them with consequences they might be forced to live with for the rest of their life, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, exact an even worse price upon all their loved ones.
This is a VERY tightly packed movie, hardly a word that isn't important to the development of the plot. Watch it closely.
This movie does need a bit more tension and rage at one particular point, but that's about the biggest flaw I saw.
Just so you know, Redford, 76, is playing the role of a late 60 year-old, and there are very important reasons why he has a young daughter. Now, it is up to you to see this film and figure out why.
By the way, this movie has a lot of great talent in it, and they each do very well for themselves and the presentation of the movie's theme. There are 14 class act performers, plus one. This would be a hard cast to play against, but "plus one" did a super job in her first movie role.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Redford's latest film has nothing original to offer as far as
the story goes. Group members of a radical organization from the 70s,
living a life with new identities for the last 30 years, have to face
their past crimes when one of its members surrenders to the
authorities. It focuses on Robert Redford's character, Jim Grant, a
single father with a 12 year old daughter who makes a run for it to
clear his name from an alleged bank heist and subsequent murder, and
avoid getting caught at the same time.
With some characters being introduced too late in the story, it is hard to care or give a damn about the situation in general. As far as the story goes, things just fall into place too easily without any interesting obstacles. The main character being on the run or even the reporter's investigation for that matter is just too convenient.
I would have personally liked to see more of Susan Sarandon's character, her back story, what drives her to surrender to the authorities after 30 years and why. Her character is the main catalyst that sets the events in motion but without knowing or understanding her relation to the main character (besides the bank heist) and what's really at stake, it just seems pointless.
125 minutes was too long for this movie especially considering it was just a waste of time. By the end of it, I frankly just didn't care.
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