The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

June 26, 2013

Should You Spend Time with The Company You Keep?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 — The trailer for “The Company You Keep” wants to impress us with the pedigree of the actors who populate this film. A list appears at the end of the previews that acknowledges the accomplishments of many of the stars. It is a stellar cast. If I counted this right, there are nine Academy Award nominated actors in the film. Collectively this cast has 18 Oscar nominations and three wins. Add to that list a twice-nominated director, Robert Redford, who has a Best Director Oscar on his shelf. If past awards meant anything, “The Company” would be the frontrunner for this year’s Awards.

Alas, that will not be the case. There are moments in this film that work well. Most of the aforementioned actors are basically doing cameos, and some of them have powerful or at least effective scenes. There are a few action sequences that almost seem inspired. But in the end, the film fails.

This is a film about a fictional domestic terrorist event. Viewers do not witness the past action that left one person dead but rather only hear it discussed. The mystery of the film is about whether or not one of the major characters was or was not involved in the event. A young reporter is trying to find the answer to that question. During his investigation, he turns over a few other stones as well. None of these revelations amounts to much, and the only suspense comes when the protagonist of the story may get arrested before he can clear his name. That suspense wears thin quickly.

I think the greatest weakness of the film is the lack of serious conversations. Make no mistake, “The Company You Keep” is a dialogue-filled film. Someone is talking in almost every frame. Each of the prestigious cast members gets a speech. Some of the battles of words work well like the first conversation between the reporter (Shia Labeouf) and director Robert Redford’s character, Jim Grant. They have the best scene in the film.     

However, I wish the film had taken more risks. The screenplay tiptoes around the terrorism issue. There should have been more heated debates about politics. There should have been more discussions about the morality of past actions, or one character that truly asserted pacifism over violence. A better film might have been to gather all these fine actors in a room, playing the same characters and debating the issues that are only slightly mentioned. Certainly all films do not have to be political or even have messages, but “The Company You Keep” seems to want to do both, and yet also wants to appeal to a larger audience, and finally ends up failing on all counts.   

Do not misunderstand me. There are plenty of films playing right now that are worse than “The Company You Keep.” But none of those contain so much talent. I would almost watch many of these actors read their grocery list. I just kept hoping their slight roles in this crowded movie would offer something a little more captivating.  

After nearly two months playing in a theater near you, “The Company You Keep”  grossed only $4.5 million. Obviously, word of mouth is not generating a lot of attention. Perhaps others feel as I do, all that talent with almost nowhere to go.  

Director Robert Redford has given us some good films through the years; my favorites would be “Ordinary People” (which garnered him his directing Oscar), ‘Quiz Show” and “A River Runs Through It.” Here’s to hoping he gathers up another great cast and makes a more thought-provoking film.

Roger Thomas reviews films for The Stanly News & Press and thesnaponline.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Doug Creamer All in the Family

    We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content