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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Company (review)

Less satisfying than it should be, this elegant little film is a perfectly pleasing experience, though you won’t remember a thing about it after the credits roll. Using a pseudodocumentary form and a loose, authentic, almost improvised style, Robert Altman (Gosford Park) takes on the world of ballet: the toll the punishing physicality takes on the performers and the abuse they dole out to themselves, the irony of world-class artists forced to take menial jobs in order to support themselves, and the energy and grace of dance. Ballet-trained Neve Campbell (Scream 3) stars as Ry, a member of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago — the rest of the company is played by the Joffrey troupe — and while she’s a lovely, delicately strong dancer, the story Campbell herself developed with screenwriter Barbara Turner, of a company member about to break out as a star, is thin, and where it isn’t obvious — company director Alberto Antonelli is a mincing hardass, though Malcolm McDowell (I Spy) has fun with the role; the prima-donna dancer on her way out, making room for Ry, is a, well, prima donna — it’s weak: Ry’s relationship with new boyfriend Josh (James Franco: City by the Sea) runs perfectly smoothly, with no drama to it at all. Altman’s presentation, low-key and journalistically objective, minimizes the story’s problems, but it’s so unbiased, in fact, that I’m not sure if the final ballet — an absurd melange of primary colors and felt-draped characters from an awful children’s book — is meant to be a parody or a celebration of modern dance. I thought it was hilarious. But even that hilarity is but a pale memory for me. A sharper point of view might have made for a more memorable film.


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MPAA: rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some nudity and sexual content

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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