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The Company
2003 - PG-13 - 112 Mins.
Director: Robert Altman
Producer: Robert Altman, Jane Barclay, Neve Campbell, Stefan Jonas
Written By: Barbara Turner and Neve Campbell
Starring: Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, James Franco, William Dick, Susie Cusack
Review by: Joe Rickey
Robert Altman is a director one could easily call a sort of jack-of-all-trades craftsman when it comes to his profession. He is very adept at directing not just merely competent films of all shapes and sizes, but he has been able to create some truly masterful films that run the gamut from murder mystery (Gosford Park) to Hollywood satire (The Player). His one true masterpiece, a film that spawned a classic TV show, MASH must also not be forgotten, for it was a nearly perfect film and still holds up well after repeat viewings to this day. All of his films have certain elegance to them along with, at the same time, a vivacious energy that propels them to the forefront of their respective genres. They are films that attempt to say something about society and usually succeed wonderfully at doing so. All of this makes it even more confounding as to what exactly went wrong with his latest and most certainly weakest effort to date, The Company.

The film tells a story that really could not be any simpler if it tried. The Company follows various members of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago as they go through their lives, spending much of their time in preparation for the next performance. Beyond this, the film fails to introduce much else in the way of plot or conflict. It will occasionally dabble in the oftentimes-troubling personal lives of a select few of the performers, notable among them a young woman by the name of Ry, played by Neve Campbell. Dabble is being generous as well because the film glosses over the personal lives of the people. It is made very obvious that what Altman is intrigued by is the actual ballet aspect of the film. He illustrates this by showcasing such sequences that are, at times, quite beautiful in their own right, but simply not enough to hang an entire film on. The film desperately calls out for some sort of viable and lasting conflict to develop so the viewer doesn’t just feel like they paid to see a feature length ballet on film. Alas, the film does seem to realize this near the ending moments of the production and has the director of the ballet develop an attitude of discontent towards his company. The only problem then becomes that the conflict seems far too artificial and tacked on than I am sure it was intended to be. If the film was so intent on having a conflict, it should have developed it from the beginning instead of cheating the audience at the finale by leaving a bad taste in their mouths as the ending is anything but satisfying. Many would say that the ending of a film is one of the most important elements of a film, because, after all, it’s the last thing you show the audience and it leaves an indelible mark on them, good or bad.

Overall, The Company features some stunning moments involving the various ballet concerts but certainly not enough to sustain an entire film that lacks anything resembling a solidly developed conflict or reason for the viewer to care about the proceedings.

Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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