Movie review: The Company You Keep

By Barney McDonald

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Shia LaBeouf stars in 'The Company You Keep'. Photo / Supplied
Shia LaBeouf stars in 'The Company You Keep'. Photo / Supplied

Populate your film with a star-studded cast and you may tweak people's interest. Base it on an over-baked script and under-direct your actors and you're likely to lose that interest faster than you can say "Weather Underground".

Bursting at the seams with quality actors such as Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson and, ahem, Shia LaBeouf, Robert Redford's latest directorial effort is less than the sum of their parts. Also starring the 76-year-old veteran, it's the kind of film that may sound good but was never likely to ignite the imagination, let alone the adrenal glands.

Instead, Lem Dobbs' adaptation of Neil Gordon's novel is handled at a distance by Redford, who seems hesitant to cut through the vagaries of the story and characters to take audiences on a plausible, suspenseful journey. Redford struggles to juggle the two, dropping balls like red herrings, left, right and centre.

The plot turns on the unravelling of a militant cell's attempts to remain at large from the law.

They're a small, disparate group of grown-up idealists leading unremarkable lives in America until one of their number is picked up by the FBI after three decades in hiding. Redford plays Jim Grant, a widower and father who seems to think that being a defence lawyer will keep him out of the public and police eye.

LaBeouf continues his run of irritating characters by playing an ambitious young reporter sniffing out a scoop, bringing him into Grant's sphere as the facts slowly, painfully, are revealed. Before we get anywhere near resolution, the eyes glaze and the mind goes blank, leaving us looking for the exit, rather than the truth.

Stars: 2/5
Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Jenkins
Director: Robert Redford
Running time: 125 mins
Rating: M (offensive language)

The Company You Keep is out now.

- Herald on Sunday

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