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Archive for the ‘Shia LeBoeuf’ Category

The Company You Keep

19 Apr

The  Company You Keep –– directed by Robert Redford. Manhunt Drama. A member of the Weather Underground lams from the law to find the one who can prove his innocence. 125 minutes Color 2013.

★★★★

The story is beautifully cast –– and why shouldn’t it be? – with a series of actors playing parts which revisit the terrorist activities of the early 1970s as each one reflects upon the parts the movement played and his part in those parts. Susan Sarandon starts off as the match who ignites the fuse of detonations involving her allies from the old days. Sarandon plays it as an honorable grown-up handing herself over to the law, and peaching on no one, because Weathermen never betrayed one another and she’s not going to start now.

She is interviewed by a local newspaperman, played by Shia Leboeuf, whom she trusts. LeBoeuf is admirably irritating, to his editor played by Stanley Tucci, and to everyone else, which is just right for this role. And his implacable hunger for the rest of the story leads to each of the old-timers. Richard Jenkins brilliantly embodies a man who makes flaccid excuses for his dead ideals by entertaining his students with the exploits they led to. Nick Nolte plays a man who has done well and is still willing to pitch in to help a friend in trouble from the cause. And Robert Redford plays the man on the run.

He is sought on two sides. The FBI in the person of Terrence Howard wants him for the famous bank robbery in which he was supposedly involved and in which a teller was killed. And the reporter himself seeks him for a good story. They pincer him.

The chase leads to Julie Christie, an ideologue from the old days, still fervent. However, the final scene, very much like the final scene in the recently released Sally Potter film Ginger and Rosa, is badly played and shot. Baffling.

It requires the tension of a great debate. All the issues that united them then need to be displayed, and they are, for the film is very well written, but in this scene others make several destructive mistakes.

One is that it appears they also spend the night in sex together – which is irrelevant, or ought to be.

The second is Julie Christie’s hair, which is wrong for the character. We see her hair straight when she is young. Now its curls mask her face. She cannot be seen. Someone should have said No to Julie Christie, except that to do so to her about anything is probably unthinkable. I couldn’t a done it. We’re all still too much in love with her.

The third great harm is that the scene needs to take place out of doors in full daylight, instead of in front of an unconvincing fire in a cabin by a lake where, again, it is too dark to see it.

The fourth and worse harm is that neither actor is allowed to really engage with the other, which is the fault of the director and photographer, who do the scene in a series of reaction shots. The scene collapses.

But the movie is interesting up until this the penultimate point. And Redford is quite good in the film throughout. Notice what he plays. He does not play The Hero or The Important Person Invincible. He plays someone failing at every attempt.

Actually, that’s not playable by an actor, any more than the other two are.

But watch him as he believes he is being let down by Jenkins and Nolte. He does not get mad. No. He is wounded. He is scared. Very good choice. And, while if you sit there calculating how old would have Redford been in the ‘70s, and does it seem likely he would have a nine year-old daughter, it is still one of the better pieces of acting he has done. Our attention to his beauty – the more sad being gone now – has been supplanted by our interest in his well-being as a character, which is just as it should be.

The film engaged me up to the end, which I have spent too much time on descrying and decrying. It has lots of entertainment value, and wonderful performances to behold.

 
 
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