Depending on your age, there is a certain pleasure in seeing Robert Redford, who once played Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, being interrogated on screen by a not-very-good newspaper reporter. It’s almost cinematic torture of the real Woodward, whose recent reporting seems to have cast doubt on the solidity of his past reporting.
At one point, Redford’s character snaps, “Well, that’s pretty much why journalism is dead.”
The occasion is The Company You Keep, the new film directed by and starring Redford. It is the latest in the I-Am-a-Fugitive-From-Justice-But-I-Am-Not-What-I-Seem genre. But it doesn’t have the fine script or acting of 1993’s The Fugitive, and unlike television’s The Americans and Homeland, it does not feature a marriage imploding under the pressure of a secret life to make the plot more resonant.
Without marital agony or the suspense of a manhunt, there seems to be little at stake, except a meditation on regret and old age. There is gruff Nick Nolte (72); the professionally grizzled Sam Elliott (69); the still-radiant Susan Sarandon (67); and the even more radiant Julie Christie (72). They’re fine; it’s the plot that’s creaky, something about members of The Weather Underground hiding in plain sight after a bank robbery turned fatal. There are constant references to the “30-year-old” crime, which puts it in 1983, a little late for Vietnam protesters. At any rate, an arrogant young reporter, played by the annoying Shia LeBoeuf, finds out The Truth.
In sum, the story is as stiff as Redford’s gait (he’ll be 77 this year), but Julie Christie, above all, may be worth the price of admission.