Director: Robert Redford (Quiz Show, Horse Whisperer, River Runs Through It, Lions for Lambs)
Novel: Neil Gordon
Screenplay: Lem Dobbs
Producers: Nicolas Chartier, Bill Holderman, Robert Redford
Starring: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 125 min.
How far does idealism go? Does it require personal sacrifice? Does it conquer any and all familial loyalties? Can personal relationships take precedence, or does everything ultimately play second fiddle to your own moral convictions? These questions and many more ruminate deep within the many assorted characters of Robert Redford’s reflective new feature, The Company You Keep. Based on the novel by Neil Gordon, adapted to the screen by Lem Dobbs, the title proves to be the focal point for these characters as one’s decision in the opening scene sets into motion an outpour of ramifications for the former members of the Weather Underground activists. Set in the present day, the surviving members of this group have spent the past few decades in hiding, eventually having moved on with their lives and finally gotten to a place where they were able to create families and settle down into a place of normalcy.
As the film opens, one of these members, Sharon Solarz (played with heartbreaking conviction by the great Susan Sarandon), has made the decision to turn herself in after decades of hiding. The story of her and her co-conspirators is taken up by young ace reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf), and when he interviews her one of the first questions he asks is why she chose now to come forward and serve the sentence that she has long eluded. Her reasoning? It’s no surprise that the guilt became too much to handle, but she explains that her rationale for waiting so long was that she needed the time for her children to be old enough to remember her but not so old that they wouldn’t be able to live their normal lives without her. Played with superb chemistry by the simultaneously arrogant and naive LaBeouf against the tragic, hauntingly remorseful Sarandon, this important scene is one of many that delicately hits on that core theme of where your personal cause ends and your responsibility for those outside of yourself begins.
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