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
  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry's Sketch 7.16.14.tif They don’t give a darn for Duke University

    John “Duke” Wayne’s heirs are suing Duke University over trademark rights.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Patrick Gannon Don’t forget the losers in state lottery

    RALEIGH – Behind every state lottery dollar that goes to education is a loser.
    There’s also a winner – the teacher whose salary it pays, the student who gets a scholarship or the district where a new school gets built. But we hear about the winners in advertisements and in press releases.
    This column is about the losers.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hodgepodge Cooling an overheated hedgehog and other summer travel stories

    Anybody with a pet during the summer inevitably finds themselves facing this question: What do I do with my pet on vacation?
    There are kennels for dogs, day cares for cats. Shoot, you can even find a friend to take care of your guinea pig.
    But what do you do with a hedgehog?

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • North Carolina Boasts Top Wildlife Magazine and A Success Story

    The following opinion piece was released by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission:

    RALEIGH  — When Wildlife in North Carolina, the magazine published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was named recently as the nation’s best in its category, it reflected more than accolades as a quality publication.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    CHICAGO - A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content