Talk about timing. Whether that timing is poor remains to be seen.
Two weeks after the ghastly bombings at the Boston Marathon comes “The Company You Keep,” a politically charged drama about a group of radicals who have succeeded in leaving their pasts behind until one of them is arrested.
Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is a former member of the Weather Underground organization from the late 1960s and early '70s. She is arrested in connection with a crime that resulted in the murder of a security guard decades ago.
Reporter Ben (Shia LaBeouf) begins to investigate the story, even speaking directly to Sharon. He pieces together connections between Sharon and other former protesters, including Jim Grant (Robert Redford), a civil rights lawyer who was also involved with the radical group. Jim leaves his 11-year-old daughter with his brother (Chris Cooper) and goes on the lam.
As Jim continues to make his way toward an unknown destination, he renews acquaintances with a mix of emotions. In the meantime, Ben keeps turning up more history, more information and more clues about where Jim might be headed.
Although the film is a work of fiction, the Weather Underground was a real revolutionary group that bombed mostly government buildings and banks to protest the Vietnam War, among other issues. Its name comes from the Bob Dylan song “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the lyric “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
How you perceived them in the 1970s, if you were alive then, might be different from the way you see the revolutionaries now, and your perception might have changed even more three weeks ago.
Sometimes the “reveals” in this film aren’t much of a surprise, but it’s fun to watch the characters as they come back in contact with each other. Redford has assembled some of the best performers from three generations here, and they don’t disappoint. Just seeing Julie Christie and Redford, two of the biggest stars from the 1970s, onscreen together will be a pleasure for many audience members.
Incidentally, one scene is set in Coralville, Iowa, only about an hour's drive away, so the delight of the Quad-City audience was audible.
The show reminds me quite a bit of the Sidney Lumet film “Running on Empty.” Like that film, this is a morality play that doesn’t provide any easy answers, including to the question of whether you can change the past simply by distancing yourself from it.
Here is star power to entertain along with moral dilemmas to discuss on your way home.