The Company You Keep Blu-Ray Review

blu-ray:
Jeff Beck

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3.5
On August 12, 2013
Last modified:September 10, 2013

Summary:

The Company You Keep is an effective, slow-burning mystery, boasting one of the most impressive casts of the last few years.

Company You Keep1 The Company You Keep Blu Ray Review

The first thing that is likely to catch your eye about The Company You Keep, the latest directorial effort from Robert Redford, is the vast amount of star power it contains. I can’t recall having seen so impressive a cast for at least the last several years. Take a look at this list: Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Terrence Howard, Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Kendrick, and Sam Elliott. These names, most of whom have won or have been nominated for an Academy Award, would be enough to convince most people to give the film a shot, but then again, more details on the film couldn’t hurt.

The plot revolves around a group of ex-radicals known as the “Weather Underground.” A few decades ago, they staged numerous protests and even committed a number of violent acts, including a bank robbery. Years later, we find that they have moved on from their radical days and are living normal lives. Some of them have even started families. Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is one of these people. However, out of the blue, she decides to turn herself in to the police, which sparks an investigation from Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf), a reporter for the Albany Sun Times.

His investigation leads him to Jim Grant (Robert Redford), a lawyer who rejected Solarz’s case. After a little more digging, Ben uncovers a startling truth: Jim Grant is actually Nick Sloan, another member of the Weather Underground. With his identity unveiled, Nick is forced to go on the run as he is wanted in connection with the bank robbery that led to the death of a security guard. As Ben continues to follow the story, he discovers more and more about Nick’s past, eventually leading him to question whether he had anything to do with the robbery at all.

It’s a really pleasant surprise to see Redford continuing to exercise his directing chops well into his 70s. His last efforts were the mostly-forgettable The Conspirator, which told of the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln, and Lions for Lambs, an intriguing multi-threaded tale revolving around soldiers in Afghanistan. With The Company You Keep, he shows that he’s lost none of his skill as he slowly builds the mystery and the tension lying underneath it all.

Did I mention the outstanding cast? Well, they’re worth mentioning again. Before screening the film, I knew next to nothing about it, and was only aware of Redford’s involvement. This made for an awful lot of surprises as approximately every 5-10 minutes I suddenly found myself thinking “Wow, that’s (insert star’s name here)!” Granted, with such a large cast, they don’t all get large parts, but it was a pleasure to see them all nonetheless. I even have to give credit to LaBeouf, who delivers one of his best, most believable performances yet. Sometimes it just takes the right material for an actor to show that he has some talent, or in his case, material that doesn’t involve giant, noisy robots smashing into each other.

As for the plot, it remains engaging throughout most of its runtime. Like most films, there are slumps here and there, but nothing that was truly detrimental to my enjoyment of it. As I mentioned, the mystery is built slowly, always filling us in on the details a little at a time, which I found was a good way to keep the audience absorbed in the story. Some of the twists are a little iffy, and you may have to ignore the questionable timeline of events, but if you can put these aside, you’ll probably find it equally engaging.

Company You Keep The Company You Keep Blu Ray Review

If there is one place The Company You Keep falters, it’s in the ending, which was softer and less impactful than I would have liked. These are major events for the former radicals, who are now being forced to come to terms with their past and make big decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. However, the ending merely happens in a snap, concluding things rather quickly. I’m not saying it should be a long, drawn-out ending, but rather that it should have felt as though there was more weight behind their choices.

The screenplay comes from Lem Dobbs, who adapted it from the novel by Neil Gordon. Dobbs has had a hit and miss career with films like Dark City (co-written with Alex Proyas and David S. Goyer), a film that nears greatness, but just misses the mark, and Haywire, a film whose plot matched its title. Strangely enough, all three of these films are ones with problematic endings. He’s shown that he definitely has a talent for screenwriting, but he’s also shown that he has a clear area that he needs to work on.

Overall, this is a film that works pretty well. It has its kinks, but thanks to a top-notch cast and an intriguing mystery that keeps the audience entertained, it ends up being worth the two-hour investment. Hopefully we’ll continue to see Redford utilize his directorial efforts into his 80s just like Clint Eastwood. He’s already taken an Oscar for his first effort behind the camera, Ordinary People, and was nominated again for the great Quiz Show nearly 20 years ago. For some of the greats, retirement is simply a four-letter word.

The film itself is presented in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer that looks a little grainy throughout most of the film. It’s not enough to hurt the overall enjoyment of it, but it is noticeably not as sharp as one would expect. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, on the other hand, is flawless, with every sound coming through loud and clear.

As far as special features go, here’s what’s included on the disc:

  • Behind The Scenes: The Movement, The Script, Preparation, and The Cast
  • On The Red Carpet
  • The Company You Keep Press Conference

Out of these extras, the only ones that are really worth watching are the behind the scenes featurettes, which feature lots of interviews with the cast and crew. In them, they discuss the various characters, the plot, what it was like to work with each other, and other interesting aspects about making the film. The press conference obviously has interviews as well, but it doesn’t really explore any new areas that the featurettes don’t already cover.

This release basically boils down to a decent film with decent special features, which is more than you can say about a lot of releases nowadays. If you enjoy a slowly-revealed mystery, then The Company You Keep should fit the bill pretty well for you, and yes I’m going to mention it one more time: the cast is enough to make any cinephile come running. If you do yourself a favor and give it a try, you just might find yourself caught up in it.

This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.

The Company You Keep is an effective, slow-burning mystery, boasting one of the most impressive casts of the last few years.
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  • MickLamarr

    I love this review i found it fair, and, pretty much on the spot, all over, for a movie that has been admired by most classic critics, and, some very selected audiences, but, has been either seen or a lot less appreciated by the younger ones or those reviewers from the wire who often tend to generalize brutally, while apparently knowing or remembering very little of the glorious films and stars, atmospheres, and, ideals that populated the greater USA Cinema, happened between the late 1960′s, and, throughout the 1970′s, two exceptional decades, offering not only greater, more personal, yet extremely mainstream films, but, also, a lot more of sense and sensibility, and strong creativity when coming to discuss and examine morals, social commentary, love, and other very, very important point of views of our existence, that today seem to be so ungratefully impaired only by virtual, schematic informations, and, a very troubling lack of style and depth, favoring always pure escapism, while almost forgetting any inspiration and complex themes, delivering to the theaters only major films that feel and look all the same by far too long time!

    Now, i am not saying either that someone should review the late works of some of those masters and stars, based just out of the respect for their past and exceptional work during those fantastic decades! Absolutely not, and, in fact, i was one of the first ones to reject “Lion for Lambs”, for example, as a bland and formulaic example of filmmaking sadly coming from the once one of a kind Mr. Robert Redford! But, hey, nobody’s perfect, and, especially today, i can only imagine how difficult it may be to come to complete such an expensive movie, filled also with major names, and, deal with tons of obviously very contrasting and conflictual opinions, and, pressure from any executive trying to make the most out of the corporations investments!

    But, I thought that with “The Company you Keep”, despite a modest script, by the still talented Lem Dobbs, Mr. Redford has delivered this time, quite a great film, dense, and psychological, with a few time gap’s maybe (however the actual time line was never truly clear, and, at moments, i felt myself, like nobody had been told, or was ever shown anything in order to establish that the current story was truly taking place today, while it could have been taking place just when the also great novel had been written, about 10/12 years ago, i mean!) but always extremely solid in its execution, without ever becoming a glossy Hollywood production ever, but, always a much more personal, grittier and melancholic, raw story about people! Yes, for God’s sake, a movie about the people, real people, some rendered by wonderfully nuanced portrayals, especially, like the restless woman so incredibly performed by the fantastic Julie Christie, whom i thought, at 71, still looks beautiful, and, despite her wrinkles, still glows with her natural radiant and clever persona, bringing to the mysterious, almost elusive and enigmatic, yet pivotal character of Mimi Lurie, a penetrating, and, haunting inner strength, interestingly reminding me somewhat of that same unforgettable presence, Katherine Hepburn had shown beautifully in one of her later and most acclaimed films roles, when playing opposite Henry and Jane Fonda, back in 1981, in another inter generational and ultimately rather harsh drama, “On Golden Pond”! And, in fact, it is near by, a maybe not golden, but, here rather dark and silvery pond, that all the most terrific scenes between Christie and a visibly tired, but always extraordinarily piercing, and, touching Redford, take place in this somewhat subtle, yet very moving and insightful political drama!
    All others cast members rocked and shined as well, especially Susan Sarandon, who’s capable to pretty much nail and demolish, all the most poignant social and political flaws plaguing America today, in just one long scene, opposite, an always controlled, and, expressive La Beouf, rather good at playing the real antagonist here, and, then, a formidable group of entertainers, all very well known, great actors, such as Terrence Howard, the always ironic and unique Nick Nolte, Jenkins, Tucci, Gleason, and, new comer Brit Marling, even Anna Kendrick, all truly rather perfectly delivering strong, and, very believable contributions, in their rather brief, but, always extremely important appearances.
    This movie is more than worth a watch, or a re-watch, if you have seen it already, considering also the gorgeous, understated, yet truly glaringly perfect cinematography work by Adriano Goldman, and, the fantastic music score from the always hip and innovative Cliff Martinez, and, of course, last but not least, a very careful and pleasantly realistic style of direction, from the star of the film himself, master Robert Redford.
    Altogether i hope that this very well presented DVD release may give to many detractors, the opportunity to re-consider the great qualities all so brilliantly displayed within “The Company you Keep”, a movie that is first of all, a director’s movie, and, a fine psychological study over the lives of those who had chosen very controversial paths, throughout the years, in an extremely important and crucial moment of recent history!
    Never less than compelling, and, always very personal, tense and passionate, dark and melancholic, this movie, made by one of our most respected and admirable filmmakers, is without doubts one of the best mainstream releases this year, one of the most boring and unfortunate years for movie goers in a very long time! And so, i honestly believe that shows like “The Company you Keep” should be extremely appreciated even by the younger crowd of my generation today, and, never too easily and quickly dismissed, since there’s way too much to learn and too much talent to admire in here that it’s almost bedazzling to think, how much better, or with much more indulgence, instead, so many other terrible films were received, all work made without or very sparse, and, somewhat almost improvised talent, and most of all, telling mostly dumb plots, just either so derivative and shabby, tired and contrived, or sadly plain silly and disturbingly shallow, movies all looking just as they were almost coming straight from one of those rather boring comics, so wildly poisoning and influencing, at this point, our mass cultural and media standards today, and, Hollywood itself, way too often producing more and more disappointing and disappointing shows, easily to get summed up as a jamboree of extremely expensive machinations, dull and formulaic, all hoping to hide, just with glossy and unrealistic production designers, and, casting’s over crowded with ripped young males showing biceps and little brains, and, women always more and more stylized and perfectly unreal, a consumeristic society that is just the same one easily so influenced by such decadent and poor cultural momentum!

    just mostly inspired by s, always featuring no morals, nor any true appeal or the classic driven force, that people like Redford, Julie Christie, Sarandon, and Brit Marling, Jenkins and Nolte, just to name a few, have always displayed so generously in this film as much as in any other work we have seen them throughout their phenomenal and long lasting careers!