Robert Redford directs and stars in the new political thriller, The Company You Keep, in theaters April 5, 2013. Redford portrays Jim Grant, a public interest attorney and suburban single dad in Albany, whose past as a 1970’s anti-war radical suddenly comes back to haunt him after his true identity, which includes being a fugitive wanted for murder, is exposed by young lawyer, Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf).
Grant’s quiet life of 30 years is shattered. With his own future and that of his 11-year-old daughter at stake, he is compelled to run from the FBI and journey across the country to search for the one person who can clear his name.
In addition to being chased by the law, Grant also has the ambitious Shepard, hot on his trail, who ignores warnings from his editor and threats from the FBI in his single-minded determination to utilize this major national news story to make a name for himself.
Grant’s painful and controversial past is dredged up as he comes into contact with former members of the anti-war group that he belonged to, Weather Underground. Gradually, Shepard comes to realize his perception of Grant isn’t as accurate as he thought and is led to the discovery of shocking secrets that Grant has managed to keep hidden for three decades.
Both Grant and Shepard come to see things differently when the two meet face to face in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, prompting each to come to terms with who they really are.
The Company You Keep, based on the 2003 novel by Neil Gordon, was an award winner at the Venice Film Festival and features an impressive cast which, in addition to Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf, includes Julie Christie, Terrance Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci and Susan Sarandon.
While acknowledging the historic aspects of the story, the film’s leading man and director Robert Redford feels that this tale is more about the characters and how they deal with the pain of the past than the anti-war movement itself.
On the film’s website, Redford compares the plot to that of another story which has recently been adapted to the big screen: “For me it was a bit like Les Misérables, with the character Jean Valjean sentenced to nineteen years for a loaf of bread,” Redford explains. “He escaped from prison, built a false identity, had a daughter, had a good life, but the pain of that time was always going to haunt him, So how do these people deal with that?”
Maybe the success of Les Misérables is an indication that The Company You Keep could be a hit as well.
One thing’s for sure, fans of Redford will be enthusiastic over his return to acting after a six-year absence.