Robert Redford has had quite the illustrious career. He won an Oscar in 1980 for directing Ordinary People, along with several other nominations not only for his direction, but as an actor. Redford is one of the few people to have a successfully balanced career as both an actor and a director. Recently though, Redford has had a harder time finding the same success. The 2007 film Lions for Lambs was a great idea in theory, but the script derailed the film, as it felt far too discombobulated, and turned out to be a critical and financial failure. His next film, 2011’s The Conspirator also had a great concept, but the film couldn’t escape the made for TV vibes that it produced. The film performed slightly better than Lions for Lambs, but still was a disappointment. Redford is trying to rebound with The Company You Keep.
The Company You Keep is one of the many high-profile indie films that is being released in April, but has not garnered much attention do to the several other higher-profile indies. Films like Trance, Place Beyond the Pines, and Lords of Salem have all been able to reach wide release, while The Company You Keep has been stuck in indie film limbo despite its all-star cast, which makes sense, because The Company You Keep is a solid, yet lukewarm flick.
The Company You Keep is a thriller focused on widowed father Jim Grant, who is now on the run after he is found out to be an ex-member of an anti-Vietnam group that took several lives during a bank robbery.
The cast here is excellent. Redford has gathered a great ensemble cast, and everyone does a great job. Probably the highlights here are Shia LaBeouf, who gives what is most likely his best performance in a movie, and Robert Redford. LaBeouf is able to show that likability and charm to him that he just naturally has as an actor, which helps make what could have been a mediocre character somewhat memorable, and he has a jheri curl, which is cool too.
Robert Redford is given the most to do here, and really thrives. He is just such a professional, and that professionalism shows. Redford adds a level of conviction and realism to his character, and we truly feel for him as a character despite what could be a rather sinister past.
Other members of the cast such as Anna Kendrick, Richard Jenkins, Brit Marling, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, and Stanley Tucci also get to shine in their small roles in the film.
Redford’s direction here displays the same amount of professionalism that his performance does. Redford knows how to keep the movie moving nicely, with the film consistently being engaging. Along with cinematographer Adriano Goldman, the film is shot beautifully, with a lot of grimy shots of forests and cities.
The score here by Cliff Martinez is great. Martinez is one of the best in the industry, with fantastic work on films like Arbitrage and Drive, and here he gives another solid effort. Martinez’s score adds to the film’s professionalism and adds more emotional value overall to the film.
The film’s timeline is poorly conceived. Obviously, the Vietnam War happened in the late 60’s and throughout most of the 70’s, but the film says the radical movement attacked thirty years before now, which was the 80’s. While this is just a simple mistake, it is a very puzzling one, as its rather easy to crunch the numbers.
Also troublesome is that much of this film feels rather familiar. While the film’s story is enjoyable, most of the film’s big twists are easily guessed, and the story felt that it could have been far more original at times.
The film’s narrative is rather messy. The story here takes far too many unnecessary twists and turns to try to add complexion to the story, but overall just felt like unnecessary extras.
At times, the movie would just introduce new characters every scene, and after that one scene, the character vanished from the film. Writer Lem Dobbs is a talented scribe, but I think by trying to make the film more complex, he just made the narrative more all over the place.
The Company You Keep is a messy, but overall enjoyable yarn due to the talent behind the camera and on-screen.
Take a Drink: every time Robert Redford runs
Take a Drink: whenever it looks like the film is taking place in the 80’s
Do a Shot: for Shia’s jeheri curl, let it live on!