**1/2 (out of four)
Taking a break from being a tabloid punchline, Shia LaBeouf stars in “The Company You Keep” with an all-star team of veterans: Robert Redford (who also directed), Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper,
That list is ridiculous.
The movie examines what people do for a cause until it becomes a study of what they do to not get caught. LaBeouf plays Ben Shepard, an Albany SunTimes reporter practically drooling with eagerness to break a big story. He latches onto the arrest of a woman (Sarandon) who was on the lam for 30 years after a Michigan bank robbery and murder, and a guy (Redford) who’s got too many denials and short answers not to have a few related secrets hidden away.
LaBeouf brings determined zeal to a young news fiend susceptible to becoming emotionally involved in his work. Speaking of which: It’s absurd and unethical that Ben tries to romance Rebecca (Winnetka native Brit Marling), who may have a connection to the events he’s trying to understand. The movie comes from Neil Gordon’s novel and touches on the real-life Weather Underground movement during the
As a filmmaker, Redford (“The Conspirator,” “Lions for Lambs”) lately has been bogged down in issue-driven blandness, and eventually “Company” succumbs to speechifying and a lack of connection to its initial heat. A small role for Anna Kendrick also can’t compensate for a story that would be much more complicated (and less predictable) had it dealt with the complexities of the guilty more than the purity of the innocent.
What begins as a crackling, ‘70s-style political thriller drags into a chatty, less-than-gripping drama that criticizes the press only to undermine its purpose. Consider me offended.
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