There aren’t many filmmakers creating the kind of chewy, talkative dramas about real issues that used to be a staple of movie-going because, well, the audience willing to sit still for them is aging out and dying off.
So bless Robert Redford: While “The Company You Keep” can’t sustain itself as the kind of thriller it’s being pitched as, it’s still a thoughtful, provocative story about the continuing battle between idealism and cynicism. Unfortunately for this film (as with Redford’s bitterly underappreciated 2007 film “Lions for Lambs”), cynicism seems to be winning.
The story, such as it is, mirrors (in a way) Sidney Lumet’s “Running on Empty,” a 1988 film that seemed to muddle its politics in a story of teen romance. Redford has more on his mind, in a story that echoes the Weather Underground’s Brinks armed-car robbery in 1981 in Nyack, NY.
So his story starts with Susan Sarandon, looking like a middle-aged soccer mom, being surrounded by cops as she fills her car at a suburban gas station. She is, it turns out, a wanted fugitive, a former anti-war radical from the 1960s who has been hiding under an alias for all these years.
One of her phone calls is to an attorney, Jim Grant (Redford), who becomes an object of interest for a local newspaper reporter (Shia LaBeouf). Almost instantly, Grant hits the road, leaving his young daughter with the brother (Chris Cooper) he hasn’t seen in years. Because, of course, Grant is also a fugitive, one who has been hiding in plain sight by creating a new identity, though wanted for his participation in a bank robbery that left one person dead.
This review continues on my website.