Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep, is an outstanding movie. It deals with the Weather Underground members in late life. No, not talking about those who report and attempt to predict weather patterns, as important as that might be. I’m referring to the radical anti-government movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which broke away from the principle of peaceful protest against the Viet Nam War and U.S. incursions into Central America to support “American interests,” meaning our corporations. The movie portrays these former and/or still active radicals as remaining faithful to each other and their cause, fighting an oppressive and murderous government, which has only gotten worse in the decades since. It’s about survival in a toxic environment.
The movie isn’t a mystery, so the following comments shouldn’t be considered a spoiler, although stop reading here if you are concerned about such things. It portrays the government’s continued and even ramped-up pursuit of these “radicals” 30 years after the fact, as well as the obsession of journalists (a few these days) to get at “the truth,” no matter the cost. Ironic twist here, given Redford’s roll as dogged Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward digging into Nixon’s Watergate scandal in All The President’s Men (1976).
There is little speechifying in The Company You Keep, but where it occurs, it’s illuminating, especially if you have forgotten or never knew the motives of radical groups like The Weathermen of that tumultuous era. One character says, “We changed nothing.” Another believes, “We changed everything.”
The Company You Keep has been a box office bomb. My beloved and I were the entire audience on a Monday evening, which we feel is a shame worthy of tears, because the intertwining stories played out are not only crucial to remember or learn, but because our government has become so much more remote and oppressive and our reporting of it so rare and stifled.
See it. Great story and terrific actors: Redford, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Shia LeBeouf, Stanley Tucci.