Young people who went through ‘Occupy Wall Street’ should go to see “The Company You Keep” to see how people protested the Vietnam war which had the government killing college students while some of those a little older were members of the Weathermen Underground, a revolutionary group to bring down the U.S. government by robbing banks, blowing up buildings and, in some incidents, killing innocent bystanders. Some members disappeared becoming upstanding members of communities for decades and in recent years some have given themselves up after their children had grown and they still had their guilt.“The Company You Keep” is the story of one woman, Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) surrendering after being wanted for 30 years in connection with a killing at an attempted bank robbery.
By doing this Sharon involves some who were with her in those days and have turned around their lives, all having done quite well. We meet Jim Grant (Robert Redford), a respected lawyer whose wife recently died, leaving him with a 11 year old daughter (Jackie Evancho), who goes on the run to find his former lover Mimi (Julie Christie) who can clear him and is currently running drugs for her new partner Mac (Sam Elliot). We meet Fitzgerald (Nick Nolte) who owns a lumberyard, Jed (Richard Jenkins) who is a university professor, Billy (Stephen Root) a farmer, organic of course, and Daniel (Chris Cooper), Jim’s brother who takes his niece. Last, but certainly not least, is Henry Osborne (Brendan Gleeson) as a police chief who was involved in the case of the bank robbery and the guard who was killed.
Redford brings in younger faces with Ben (Shia LaBeouf) as a reporter who has a a former girlfriend in the FBI, Diana (Anna Kendrick) who supplies him with information about Jim and Rebecca as Osborne’s daughter. There is Diana’s boss, Cornelius (Terrence Howard) who goes on the search for Jim and/or Mimi as Ben tries to get to them first for the ‘big’ story and Ben’s boss Ray Fuller (Stanley Tucci)..
This is a film many young people should go to see to learn the history of their grandparent's generation who were not passive when they knew the government was wrong. They should see how professional, older actors can raise the level of a film and are a presence on the screen. For those of us over 60 it reminds us of what individuals Redford, Christie, Sarandon, Nolte, etc., brought to the screen and still do. Though Redford’s face hasn’t aged too well in screen terms those of us from “The Sting” days will see him as he was then just as looking at Christie the beauty of “Darling” shines through.
The directing by Redford, with the screenplay by Lem Dobbs is pedestrian, though there is a scene with Susan Sarandon in prison, and another between Redford and Christie in a log cabin, that make the film worth seeing along with the performances by the other older actors. He does make a major mistake with the Hollywood ending which, if you have seen any movies, know is coming way before it does.