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The Company You Keep - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Company You Keep
Directing: B-
Acting: C+
Writing: C
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

I think maybe Robert Redford was so busy arranging his ridiculous pile of A-list actors for The Company You Keep, he sort of forgot actual directing. That includes himself. Everyone and their mother is in this movie, and pretty much all of them seem a little like they're phoning it in.

The name recognition in this movie is the most significant thing about it. It's fine for a while, but then there's just one too many. For me, it was when Richard Jenkins appeared on screen. I had already seen Robert Redford as Nick Sloan, a former Weather Underground activist on the run to clear his name; Shia LaBeouf as Ben Shepard, the Albany, New York reporter digging up the story; Susan Sarandon as the other activist who turns herself in after thirty years of living in hiding as a suburban mom; Stanley Tucci as Ben's newspaper boss; Terrence Howard as an FBI agent; Anna Kendrick as Ben's former flame working at the FBI; even the likes of Nick Nolte and Chris Cooper in parts that, well -- haven't I lost you already?

Richard Jenkins pushed it over the edge for me. Is there no part in this movie not played by an unknown actor? I know Robert Redford is a popular guy. Did he just send out a casting call via text to the speed dial list on his phone? You'd think it must have been a great project they naturally would all be on board with. You'd be wrong. It's more like thirteen people doing Redford a personal favor.

I'm not sure the story even matters that much. The parade of familiar faces took me right out of the movie, which honestly isn't nearly as interesting as the question as to why all these people are in it.

Not that it's bad, exactly. It's just . . . blah. It's somewhere between riveting and dull, but slightly closer to the dull side. I was engaged, but only barely. I asked myself a key question when I got home: Even though the movie wasn't bad, am I glad I went to see it? No, not really. I could have watched something better on TV at home.

I haven't even mentioned Brendan Gleeson or Brit Marling or Sam Elliott. Or hell, Julie Christie, who plays the most significant supporting part, as the woman Nick Sloan is looking for, in an effort to talk her into coming forward to clear his name in the charge of murder during a bank robbery that went bad thirty years ago. Blah blah blah. There's a lot going on in this movie and no action, and honestly not even very much drama. What's the point?

I couldn't even figure out how old Nick Sloan is supposed to be. Presumably younger than Robert Redford actually is, which is 76. This Weather Underground activity from thirty years prior suggests very young people, maybe in their twenties. Maybe Nick Sloan was a very young 46? Oh, he has an 11-year-old daughter. Was she born when Nick Sloan was already a senior citizen? It happens, I guess.

To be fair, we learn of an older daughter, college-aged. Even Julie Christie is 71; Susan Sarandon is 66. This movie could have been called The Retired Radicals, but only if it were more exciting. Anyway, the ages of these actors suggest even a college-aged kid would have been born in their forties to fifties. I think they're all supposed to be playing younger. They're all great actors, but come on -- kind of amazingly, none of them look like they've had work done, which means they can't really pass for younger. It's distracting.

So is the fact that none of these great actors do any great acting in this movie. It's maybe not their fault. The script, too busy for its own good, doesn't allow much opportunity.

Robert Redford is in too deep in more ways than one in THE COMPANY YOU KEEP.

Overall: C+
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