Robert Redford is not only back behind the camera, but in front of it too in The Company You Keep. For his story of modern justice finding a group of violent anti-war radicals from the 1960s, Redford has assembled a Robert Altman-type cast that runs the gamut from young and talented (Shia LaBeouf) to gruff veteran (Nick Nolte).
As shown in The Company You Keep trailer, the film begins with Susan Sarandon leaving her home to go get some gasoline. As soon as she turns off the car, FBI agents surround her and take her into custody. That moment sets off a chain reaction that will ensnare all of our film’s characters in ways that their lives will never be the same.
Redford is a small upstate New York attorney who is approached by a friend of Sarandon’s to represent her. He refuses, saying she would be better served by someone more qualified. We soon find out why he doesn’t want to represent her. He too has been in hiding for a bank robbery committed during the 1960s… all in the name of stopping the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, LaBeouf plays an Albany newspaper reporter who believes there is something a little off by the arrest of this housewife beyond what the police are saying. When he digs further, he stumbles on the truth and his expose will make it impossible for anyone involved in that fateful robbery from back in the day to stay hidden.
As brilliantly paired in The Company You Keep poster, Redford and LaBeouf are terrific in their tit-for-tat performance that slowly builds towards a boil throughout the film. It is because of LaBeouf’s reporting that Redford must head out on the run and leave his daughter with his brother (Chris Cooper), who never supported his brother’s actions… but cannot turn his back on family.
Across the country, we meet Sam Elliott and Julie Christie. The couple are connected, but we’re not sure how until it is revealed in an explosive finale.
You see, that’s why our The Company You Keep review can recommend the film. There are so many terrific performances turned in by some of the greatest actors working today and yesterday. Not to be left out, Stanley Tucci rivets as LaBeouf’s boss. Richard Jenkins has a small role as a former comrade of Redford’s and Brit Marling continues to dazzle in her young career as a love interest for LaBeouf.
Oh, and then there are three small roles that remind us of that iconic phrase about the fact that there are no small roles, only small actors. Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard and Brendan Gleeson round out this superstar cast. That is, first and foremost, the reason to see The Company You Keep.
The plot is fascinating, albeit a bit bumpy, in its shining a spotlight on an era of U.S. history that should not be forgotten. Radicalism in America is nothing new, but with the aversion to the Vietnam War, some took it too far, and how we handle that is the crux of the debate at the center of Redford's story.