Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep – Review and Trailer

_DSC8032.NEFfour-stars4Robert Redford‘s new film surprised me. Whilst being very Hollywood in construction and character development, topically it is extremely contemporary and thought-provoking.

The film centers primarily around a young journalist (played by Shia Lebouf) and an aged ex-member of the Weather Underground in hiding, Jim Grant, played by Robert Redford. The young journalist wants nothing more than to make big headlines and get his name on the journalistic map, in the process uncovering Grant’s identity. Meanwhile Grant wanders around the north-eastern US, meeting people from his past. I won’t go into too much detail as to his motivations as it is one of the main plot aspects of the film.

As I said, stylistically it’s insignificant. Essentially every scene is an establishing shot, medium shots, close ups, and establishing shot, centering around conversation after conversation, if not running around and suspense. The acting is all rather good – I was particularly impressed by Shia Lebouf playing an actually complicated and serious character in a serious film.

However, what is topically significant is that the film is about terrorists. Redford’s character, Grant, is an ex-terrorist, responsible for some bombings in the late sixties and early seventies, but also allegedly responsible for taking part in a bank heist which resulted in the group’s only murder. The examination of these “terrorists” as humans is certainly relevant and important to contemporary discussion.

We live in a time when “Terrorist” is akin to “Nazi”, even though “terror” is a tactic, rather than an ideology. Yet simply to be labeled a “terrorist”, or to have ever been associated with a “terrorist”, is enough to have all of your constitutional rights invalidated under the various “war acts” such as the Patriot Act put up under Bush and then renewed under Obama. This film investigates the motives behind these tactics, and humanizes those who took part in it. A very ballsy move for Redford, and it provoked thought in me, which is something quite uncommon for “action-suspense”.

I would recommend it.

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