Sony Pictures Classics | Release Date: December 25, 2003
6.9
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Generally favorable reviews based on 22 Ratings
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7
SpangleMar 13, 2017
One of the last films of his career finds director Robert Altman at his most stubborn. Often times, his films are criticized for not really having a plot. Instead, those films are character-driven. It is about the interactions someOne of the last films of his career finds director Robert Altman at his most stubborn. Often times, his films are criticized for not really having a plot. Instead, those films are character-driven. It is about the interactions some protagonist has with others and the situations they find themselves in that drive the film forward. Films such as California Split are admittedly quite plotless, but the interactions between the two protagonists on their gambling journey is what propels the film forward. Others, such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller, do have more of a plot, but still rely on the characters to move the film forward. The Company, however, is different. Altman refuses to give us characters or a plot. Yes, the film does pretend to focus on ballet dancer Ryan (Neve Campbell), her boyfriend Josh (James Franco), or company director Alberto (Malcolm McDowell), but very few scenes exist where they are the stars. Instead, the film is about the company. The group of dancers, their interactions, and the film plays out more like a documentary than a true drama.

Introducing us to Ryan and her family for no apparent reason, the half-baked character development is the film's biggest fault. Neve Campbell is fine in the role, but Ryan is hardly worthy of so much attention when the film flat out refuses to take it farther than showing us her family and boyfriend. The film would have turned out far better had they just focused on everybody else and the company as a whole, which it seems to want to do. Perhaps Altman could not get funding unless actual characters were added or something, but regardless, it does hold the film back as it just feels excessive and unnecessary. This could also be a writing issue, but even the writing seems to admit these characters are incredibly dry.

That said, the world this film drops you into is absolutely irresistible. Though I am not a dancer nor am I a fan of ballet, the intricacy of the performances on display here and the practice is impeccable. The film feels tense and dramatic with very little effort as you watch people battle it out for roles in a never-ending stream of performances. Merely watching a dancer practice or audition is incredibly tense, even when we have no idea who they are. There is a natural tension to this realistic display put forth by Altman's film that really elevates the film. But, the film is not nearly just the drama. It is also the interactions and camaraderie between those in the company. One woman "rents" out her place for fellow dancers and, one night, she goes around at night asking if somebody has an extra condom. It feels like an out of place scene in the film if you view it as being about Ryan, since she is not in the place at all. If you view it as merely a film about the company, its dancers, and its productions, it makes a whole lot more sense. It is an oddly charming sequence that shows that all of these people are in it together, with no questions asked. Though their families may not support them, the other dancers are ride or die.

While perhaps not the most engaging film on the surface, there is a lot to like about The Company. It may be Altman's least structured film, or at least one of them, but features a lot of late career flair that his earlier films (1980s) sometimes lacked. He is open to giving up scenes to just the choreography and letting the nameless dancers do their thing, which is to the film's benefit. It is a film about the ballet company and by the ballet company. Altman lets them do the talking, unfortunately the film does try to force Ryan and her dull boyfriend upon us, which is the film's main weakness. The film is about the company. Do not try and add some useless love interest and back story to a film that does not need either. Unfortunately, it did and we are left with a film that feels unfocused as a result of this divided approach between Ryan's story and then everybody else. This division is what holds the film back from being better, but even, it is a terrific odd little film that is not really slice of life or stream of consciousness, but more of a docudrama.
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3
MikaelP.Jan 5, 2004
This movie appeared as the closing film for the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, New York, where many great small and foreign films were revealed, especially In America. This film, on the other hand, sucked us in and then spit us out, This movie appeared as the closing film for the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, New York, where many great small and foreign films were revealed, especially In America. This film, on the other hand, sucked us in and then spit us out, completely disappointed. Great talent does show itself in this film, but the entire experience is utterly banal, as the film has NO plot. None. It can be said that it is a documentary about a dance studio in Chicago, and some of the things that occured in the course of that studio's existence are revealed. You know what? Nobody cares about the story, because there is no plot, and the character traits and development are lost and pointless. The only draw of the film was the dancing talent that was shown, which, as I feel that anyone else in that theater can support me on, would be better seen at a REAL dance studio today. The whole experience is lost onscreen. After the film ended and we realized how pointless it was, one of the "writers" went onstage and was interviewed about the experience of writing the screenplay. She admitted that Altman had requested that no story should exist, so that is exactly what he got. Prior film interviews at the festival had brought out many questions from the audience, but very few people wanted to ask her any questions, seeing as how there was really nothing to ask about. Nothing. So folks, take it from someone who has lasted perienced its pointlessness. Ignore the critics' praise of Altmanism. This is possible the least consecquential movie of the year. Expand
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2
HelenS.Apr 10, 2006
Can I say BORING? I just rented this and fell asleep 20 minutes into it. There is no story line, no character development and some of the choreography looks like it's making fun of ballet. Neve Campbell is non-existent and has barely Can I say BORING? I just rented this and fell asleep 20 minutes into it. There is no story line, no character development and some of the choreography looks like it's making fun of ballet. Neve Campbell is non-existent and has barely any lines. What is the point of this movie? Expand
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0
MargNov 28, 2005
Worst movie I've ever seen actually. NOTHING happens. Nothing. At all.
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JoshCNov 19, 2006
Robert Altman has been plugging away on movie sets, manufacturing adroit classics, odious train wrecks, and
0 of 1 users found this helpful