The Company You Keep
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Based on: Neil Gordon’s novel
Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott
30 years ago, The Weather Underground robbed a bank and shot a guard. Nobody was arrested. Now the FBI managed to arrest Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon). Her arrest has journalist Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) digging into the story. He talks to lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) who turns out to have been one of the Weathermen, Nick Sloan. Grant/Sloan goes on the run, but there seems to be more to the story than that.
The Weather Underground are certainly a topic that deserves discussion and cinematic treatment. Unfortunately this movie skirts the interesting bits and ends up being boring, unrealistic and self-congratulatory.
Sometimes I’m really naive. I looked at the cast and was pretty much convinced that nothing could go wrong with the film. Despite Shia LaBeouf. I mean, just look at that list of names! Unfortunately the movie squanders it all on a boring script with huge gaping plot holes and with just the wrong people in the wrong roles. I mean, yes, it is always great to see Susan Sarandon. But she, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte and worst of all Robert Redford were all too old for their roles. They’re all supposed to be around 50 in the movie, when in fact they’re all around 70. A couple of years difference wouldn’t have been a problem but I actually spent most of the movie calculating the people’s ages and looking at their faces and it just didn’t make sense.
The people who are actually cast in the right age group are lost in mostly meaningless side-stories and quick appearances that seem crammed into a film that is packed too tight anyway. Packed too tight and still nothing happens and it is boring. Congratulations, that is an achievement. Kinda.
And honestly, I just wanted to kick Ben Shepard, especially when it came to his storyline with Rebecca Osborne (Brit Marling) which just didn’t make no sense. He bullies her into a date and that’s apparently cool? Her dad leaves her a voice message that they have to talk about Shepard and she calls Ben fucking Shepard to find out what’s going on. I mean, what? And to think that the movie makes him out to be super-competent, outshining the worst FBI to ever be shown on film, when his “methods” consist of googling and illogical thought jumps that turn out to be true. Ugh.
Robert Redford probably shouldn’t direct movies. And he shouldn’t start in them as somebody about 20 years younger than he is. Instead somebody else should make a movie about the Weather Underground that is actually interesting.
Summarizing: Skip it.