Sunday, April 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Company You Keep - Sun., Apr. 28

The movie matinee we saw was The Company You Keep. Top name actors help us re-live the consequences of their fictional characters' roles from the 1970s-era Vietnam War protests. We follow the lives of members of the Weather Underground Organization, also known as the Weathermen.

In 1969 the Weathermen first organized at the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan, a faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The group declared war on the government of the United States and through the mid-1970s conducted bombings of banks and government buildings, most preceded by evacuation warnings. In the movie, the Weathermen rob a bank (in real life it was an armored car) and kill a guard.

Opening credits show real and made-up protest scenes from 1969 through 1981. With credits over, we visit the home of Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), 30 years after the heist. She lives in suburbia with her husband and two teen-agers. You can tell she is mentally wrestling with an issue in her life. After her kids head to school, she knowingly nods at her husband and heads out the door. When she gets to a gas station to fuel up, she makes the conscious decision to use a credit card with her real name. Within minutes, the FBI has her car surrounded and she is in custody. Her life as a fugitive hiding in plain sight is over.

Shia LaBeouf plays Ben, a reporter at a small newspaper who yearns to be an investigative reporter and "get the story." I must say, Shia certainly holds his own on screen with all the big-name movie stars he plays opposite.

So starts the story of a group of Weathermen who had been living normal lives for 30 years. Each of them has an alias and have blended into society with new careers.

Robert Redford plays Jim Grant, an attorney in New York, with an 11-year-old daughter (Jackie Evancho of America's Got Talent fame). We follow Jim Grant as he tries to find the one person who can help absolve him of the murder charge, hooking up with other former Weathermen along the way. The reporter and the FBI are hot on his tail.

The movie's pace and tone kept our interest. Chase scenes, subterfuge, and staying one step ahead of the law kept us riveted to the screen.

We wanted to find out what would happen to each of the people we met along the way. In some instances we learned the outcome and in other cases we did not. Did the lack of resolution of items detract from the movie? Somewhat. The movie was interesting and informative, it kept an air of mystery as to what would happen.

There was one unanswered question at the end. I guess as movie-goers our imagination or sense of ethics was called into play to figure out what happened to the characters concerned. It definitely led to conversation after the movie as to what we thought happened.

I give the movie 3-1/2 out of five stars.