This evening I watched a low-budget indie flick made in Canada in 2012 but just released a couple of weeks ago. Never heard of it, you say? Uh-huh. Critics didn’t like it much, so it can’t be worth watching? Uh-huh. And while it may be a thriller, it’s sure not an action film, so why bother? Uh-huh. Playing in only one theatre in Winnipeg for a week or two (that being the Globe, which is the closest thing we have to an art-house cinema, though it often plays junk)? Uh-huh. The masses don’t like it any more than the critics (so why would anyone make such a thing anyway?). Uh-huh. Why even put it on the blog and waste our readers’ precious time? Uh-huh.
What if I were to tell you that this film was directed by Robert Redford and stars Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper, Sam Elliott, Brendan Gleeson, Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Brit Marling, Richard Jenkins and Nick Nolte, and that it was a fantastic ensemble performance? A spark of interest, perhaps. And what if I were to add that this is a political thriller that subtly asks why young people today are not protesting the outrageous corporatism and militarism that rules our world the way young idealists did back in the days of the Vietnam War?
What’s that, Vic? Watch a film that’s actually about something, a film that’s thoughtful and provocative, when we can watch Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness (which ends with a tribute to those who’ve been fighting since 9/11)? You gotta be kidding, Vic! What’re you smoking?
I’m sorry, are you detecting some bitterness here? What’s that? You think even that last sentence might have been written in a facetious tone? Come on! We all know you can’t read tone! Just think of all those emails you’ve written that were misunderstood.
I think I digress. The Company You Keep: a quiet, understated, intelligent and engrossing political thriller about a group of 70’s radicals (Redford, Sarandon, Christie) who have been hunted by the FBI for decades for supposedly being involved in a bank job that cost a guard his life. When ‘Sarandon’ gets caught, a journalist (LaBeouf) starts putting the pieces together and soon everyone is on the run again.
No, it’s not a perfect film by any means. Some of the dialogue is clunky and I had the constant feeling that this film could have been much better (i.e. the story told more effectively). But give me The Company You Keep any day over the escapist waste of time that most of today’s films represent (yes, I’m getting upset about Star Trek again, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that). I loved this film and give it a solid ***+. It will probably even make my top ten of 2013. My mug is up.