Since the 2007 film “Lions for Lambs,” Robert Redford has been absent from the screen. Although he directed “The Conspirator” in 2010, he didn’t appear on camera, opting to stay behind the camera as director only. His legions of fans will be happy to know that after six years, he will return to the screen in 2013 in “The Company You Keep,” which features an all-star cast that includes several Oscar winners and nominees.
In addition to Redford, Susan Sarandon is prominently featured in the film as Sharon Solarz, a member of the infamous group Weather Underground who robbed a bank in Michigan in the 1970s. During the robbery, the group shot and killed an off-duty police officer who was serving as the bank’s security guard. Solarz knows Jim Grant, a lawyer from Albany, New York, who was a former member of the same antiwar group and had a part in the botched bank robbery.
A film like this wouldn’t be complete without a reporter’s trying to uncover the story behind some of these characters. In the case of “The Company You Keep,” the reporter’s name is Ben (Shia LaBeouf), who has shied away from mainstream movies like this in recent years. Ben knows that Solarz could be the key to uncovering where the rest of the Weather Underground gang is, including Grant, who is a single parent of a young daughter and is trying to keep himself out of jail so she doesn’t end up an orphan.
Ben has an ex-girlfriend named Diana (Anna Kendrick) who just happens to be an FBI agent. He tries to warm up to her again to get classified information about the case, but she is having none of it. Kendrick had built quite the career for herself since she first became a household name to “Twilight” fans by appearing in four of that franchise’s five films. Though she has taken the lead in some films like “Pitch Perfect” in 2012, in this film she has a smaller role in an ensemble cast that allows her to shine without having to be in the spotlight.
Speaking of young actresses who have recently made a name for themselves, Brit Marling is also on board. Like Kendrick, she only has a small part, but she manages to stand out anyways. She came to prominence in 2011 in “Another Earth,” which she wrote and produced in addition to taking on the lead acting role. The film was a huge hit at the Sundance Film Festival, which helped lead to roles in “Arbitrage” and “The Company You Keep.”
Julie Christie has only acted sparingly in the last five years but comes out of semi-retirement to play Mimi Lurie, another member of the Weather Underground who could be the key to Grant’s keeping himself and his daughter out of the clutches of Ben and law enforcement officials. Christie, whom Al Pacino once described as the “most poetic of actresses,” has a pivotal role in the film. This should please her fans, who have had to endure mostly smaller roles or cameo appearances by the British legend for several years.
Stanley Tucci also has a role, playing Ben’s editor, a man who has a lust for the big story. He appears to not enjoy his job and threatens to fire Ben if he doesn’t get him a big scoop from Solarz about why they robbed the bank that fateful day over thirty years ago. Tucci has recently appeared in the smash hit “The Hunger Games” and will reprise the role of Caesar Flickerman in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
Nick Nolte is one of a laundry list of well-respected actors with long careers who appears in “The Company You Keep.” After an infamous brush with the law, he has slowly tried to rebuild his career with small parts, such as in the ill-fated HBO drama “Luck,” which earned him critical acclaim. His small but meaty role in “The Company You Keep” should earn him more good notices and help get his career back on the right track.
Finally, Oscar winner Chris Cooper sheds his villainous role in “The Muppets” to get serious as Grant’s brother Daniel Sloan, who had no part in Grant’s antiwar activities. Grant asks him to meet him and his daughter in New York City so that Daniel can take her and raise her in case he and the rest of the Weather Underground members get arrested.
Though the film had a successful but short run in Italy in late 2012, it is not due to be released to the rest of the world until Spring 2013. The film will open in the United States in April, but only in New York and Los Angeles initially. It will be released wider in subsequent weeks, though no official timetable has yet been released.