Susan Granger's review of 'The Company You Keep'
The good news is that Robert Redford is not only directing again, but also starring in a compelling thriller about the dilemma faced by former members of the Weather Underground, a radical anti-Vietnam war group that plotted to blow up buildings in multiple U.S. cities in the early 1970s.
When Vermont housewife Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) crosses into New York state, she's arrested by FBI agents, led by Terrence Howard. She's been wanted for 30 years for her role in a botched Michigan bank robbery, during which a security guard was killed. Reprimanded by his editor (Stanley Tucci) for not breaking the local story, enterprising Albany Sun Times reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) takes advantage of his access to an FBI agent (Anna Kendrick) to zero in on civil rights lawyer Jim Grant (Redford), who declines to take Solarz' case.
A widower raising his 11-year-old daughter Isabel (Jacqueline Evancho), Grant has also been in hiding; he's really Nick Sloan, believed to be another of the Michigan bank robbers. The only way Nick can clear his name is to contact his former compatriots (Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins) and track down his ex-lover, still-idealistic Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie). Meanwhile, brash Ben is delving into the back story, not only interviewing Sharon Solarz, but also the Michigan investigating officer, Harry Osborne (Brendan Gleeson), whose beautiful blonde law-student daughter (Brit Marling) catches his attention.
Adapted by veteran screenwriter Len Dobbs ("Haywire," "The Limey") from Neil Gordon's novel and astutely directed by Redford, it's a thoughtful crisis-of-conscience tale about facing the consequences of one's actions, as America is engaged in equally immoral tragedies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bad news is the chronology isn't credible. Robert Redford is 76 -- and looks it. Julie Christie is 72. Susan Sarandon is 67. So, 30 years ago, they would have been 46, 42 and 37, respectively -- too old to have been naïve student-activists.
Nevertheless, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Company You Keep" is a conspiratorial 7 with a superb cast.