Niagara Gazette — The title of the new political thriller “The Company You Keep” not only applies to its theme of ’60s radicalism, but also to the stellar cast that gets the audience energized and has them glad to be watching their work. Good film performers make you forget who they are in real life. They make you eager to follow the characters they are playing, to go on an adventure with their reel-time personas.
These days a cast rarely gets much better than who’s in this engaging and well-made movie. It’s like being at a great party after the Oscars.
Robert Redford directs and stars in the picture. He has an Academy Award for directing “Ordinary People.” Also on-screen are Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, and Chris Cooper, all Oscar winners for acting. You’ll also see Academy Award nominees Richard Jenkins, Stanley Tucci, Terence Howard, Anna Kendrick, and Nick Nolte. And as an added bonus, you have Shia LaBeouf, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Elliott. There’s not a slacker performance in the group.
It’s a terrific experience watching this cast, especially the Oscar-winning or nominated older stars. Robert is now 76. Christie and Nolte are 72. Jenkins is 66. Sarandon is 65. Cooper is just 61. And non-nominee Elliott, whose first role was as Card Player #2 in “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” in 1969, should have been nominated for “Lifeguard.” He’s 68 and still delivers his dialogue with that deep, slow, resonant voice of his. It sounds like syrup made of liquid velvet.
Based on Neil Gordon’s novel, “The Company You Keep” is rooted in the history of an era. In the 1960s, protests gripped students across the globe, including in the United States. In America, discontent over the Vietnam War triggered mass demonstrations and police responses. Violence often flared. Some radical protesters plotted the bombings of banks, corporate symbols, and university and government buildings from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. They were part of the Weather Underground, which was the revolutionary arm of the Students for a Democratic Society.