If you’re in Fort Worth, you’ll have to cover some territory to see the movies we’re discussing this week. That’s because their theatrical engagements are in Grapevine, Arlington, and Southlake. (Though one of them is also enjoying a weekend run at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.) All three are modestly budgeted pieces with recognizable stars, getting to our multiplexes before the summer blockbusters suck up all the air. Are they worth driving 20 miles for? Mmm, let’s see.
Back in 1976, Robert Redford starred in one of the great journalism detective movies of all time in All the President’s Men. It seems natural that he’d want to direct one of his own. His latest movie, The Company You Keep, is based on a novel by Neil Gordon, and at its best it reminds you of All the President’s Men’s brainy thrills. Yet it makes a curious error that prevents it from being a first-rate thriller.
The story begins with the feds swooping down on an upstate New York housewife (Susan Sarandon) who’s actually a left-wing terrorist with the Weather Underground who’s been in hiding for 40 years. While her story transfixes the nation, Albany newspaper reporter Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) tries to talk to Jim Grant (Robert Redford), a local lawyer who passed up the chance to defend her. Ben soon discovers that Jim is also a former Weatherman, and his exposé sends Jim fleeing westward to avoid a decades-old murder charge from a Michigan bank robbery. As Ben follows his movements — which include doubling back on his tracks and abandoning his 11-year-old daughter (played by opera singer Jackie Evancho) — the reporter concludes that Jim isn’t trying to escape but to clear his name.