Monday, April 15, 2013

The Company You Keep

I don't have a whole lot to say about this movie beyond what's in the review; The Company You Keep is what it is - an enjoyable movie with a very impressive cast. From reading the description of the book as I created an Amazon link, it looks like director Robert Redford and screenwriter Lem Dobbs did a good job of reconfiguring it, downplaying the suspense aspects and giving room for the performances to take over, while also compacting the story, at the very least. It does make me somewhat curious to hear what a fan of the original novel thinks of it.

Anyway, I'll just let this post be the "yes, I live in Boston but am okay" post after today's events. It's naturally had me distracted all afternoon, to say the least - although I was off at work in Burlington this year, I've gone to the Patriot's Day Red Sox game in previous years, once or twice even winding up in Copley Square around the time the bombs went off. This isn't about "it could have happened to me", though - I'd like to think that despite not always showing it, I'm empathetic enough to be disgusted without it. It's more a case of wanting to know why someone bombs the Boston Marathon. It's an event that people from all nations, ethnicities, faiths, and social strata take part in. Many use it as a way to raise money for charity. What evil thing can it possibly represent?

At least I don't feel dirty posting this tonight, just because this is the thing I was writing on the bus this morning and writing movie reviews keeps me sane better than watching news coverage that goes wall to wall without a lot of information I can use dribbling out; this movie doesn't have much sympathy for the terrorists who used violence in the past, even if there is a bit of a redemption arc at play.

On a lighthearted note: In one of the first scenes of the movie, Susan Sarandon's character stops at an Esso station, making me wonder if she was hiding out in Canada all this time. No, she was apparently making her way from Vermont to New York. Kind of struck me as weird, seeing as movies usually make a little more effort to disguise obvious differences between where they shot and where they're set, and that would have been an Exxon station on this side of the border.

The Company You Keep

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 14 April 2013 in Landmark Kendall Square #2 (first-run, 2K DCP)

The Company You Keep can play a bit like a brute-force attack at times - sure, it's kind of slow at times and eventually the audience winds up a couple steps ahead of the protagonist, but every ten or fifteen minutes, Robert Redford will throw another great actor from his generation at the audience, perfectly cast and with at least one scene that makes them warmly received. You can only take so much of this before wearing down and enjoying the movie quite a bit.

Decades ago, a bank guard was killed in a robbery carried out by Weather Underground members, and three of the four perpetrators got away. One, Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), has just been captured on the way to turn herself in, and while she won't give any of the others up, both the FBI and young journalist Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) find a trail that leads to Jim Grant (Redford), a public-affairs attorney in upstate New York. As they get closer to sniffing out his secret, he starts looking for Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie), the member of this group of "Weathermen" that never settled down.

Grant's and Shepard's quests will take them halfway across the country, and while it may occasionally seem like it could be done in fewer steps, would you eliminate the ones where Richard Jenkins or Nick Nolte show up, so that their characters can reminisce with Redford's, debating about what they did back in the day and how it figures in their lives now before pointing him to the next stop? No, those scenes are gold. Maybe you could do without Shia LaBeouf's reporter, make this a more conventional thriller with Terrence Howard's FBI agent the main pursuer. But then you don't get the jailhouse interview where Sarandon's and LaBeouf's characters face off with their generations' different forms of principle - or at least, you'd have something very different with either Howard or Anna Kendrick (playing a junior agent) on the other side of the table.

Full review on eFilmCritic.

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