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The Company
cast: Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, and James Franco

director: Robert Altman

107 minutes (12) 2003 widescreen ratio 2.35:1 Momentum DVD Region 2 retail [released 11 October]

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by John Percival
Directed by Robert Altman, The Company is a drama set amongst the inner workings of a ballet company. Based up on Neve Campbell's own experiences as a trained dancer for The National Ballet of Canada, Campbell plays Ry as upcoming and popular dancer with the Joffery Ballet of Chicago. Whilst trying to cope with the demands of being a dancer, she works as a waitress to support herself and embarks on a romance with Josh (James Franco). All the time the ballet company director Alberto Antonelli (Malcolm McDowell) drives forward the performances of the ballet company with flamboyant and artistic flair.

The Company is something almost similar to Fame but for the 'cultured' classes. With the feel of a documentary, it displays the hard work, sacrifices and gambles that the dancers have to make to please their director and to be the best dancer. However there is no real story or plot and this is very frustrating. The audience is only along for a part of the ride and without the rest of any sort of story it makes no sense. In fact the movie ends at such a bizarre point that you are left wondering what really happened, why it happened and what exactly the point was. One single point of drama and tension exists when one of the lead dancers snaps a tendon in her leg. It is quite nasty and possibly signifies the end of a career.

Neve Campbell seems to have spread herself a little thin with writing, producing and acting duties. She is almost completely non-engaging, unlike other roles she has done. She speaks so quietly, that all her dialogue just appears to be pointless chatter. Yes, she works to support herself, but she hardly seems to struggle, everyone seems to like her and she is headed for great things, apparently. The only tarnish on her rising star appears to be landing on her bum in one performance but even that ends up with smiles all round. The character is almost totally two-dimensional.

It does feel as though the true purpose of the film is to showcase the dancing talents of the cast. Campbell dances very well as do the Joffery Ballet dancers, but when all we have is a series of performances held together by some limp dialogue, the result is kind of hollow. Robert Altman has directed a film that is as meticulously choreographed as the performances, even though it is ultimately soulless, visually it is quite impressive. The ballet although overused is well done and colourful. The sheer skill of the dancers is obvious and the creativity behind each piece is brilliant but without a decent story to tie it together, it is sadly worthless.

DVD extras include a Robert Altman audio commentary, The Passion Of Dance featurette, and The Making Of The Company featurette.

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