Click Here To Buy This DVD From Amazon.com
Review By: Jennifer Krieger
In theory, The Company must have looked like a quirky and intriguing little film. A subtle, un-melodramatic look into the world of a ballet company; a camera unobtrusively allows the audience into the lives of the various dancers of the Jeffrey Ballet Company in Chicago. Indeed, professional dancers are an enigma, highly disciplined, incredibly graceful, with seemingly superhuman abilities to withstand pain and stress. Movies like Center Stage have attempted to address the ‘ugliness’ behind the beauty, but in doing so have resorted to melodrama and clichés such as eating disorders, ugly feet, back-biting and venomous stage mothers, without offering any real insight into what the goes on in this world of paradoxical beauty and pain.
With Gosford Park, director Robert Altman demonstrated an ability to let the camera linger on faces, expressions and the nuances of movement. His highly populated social farce focused not solely on one character, but on a brilliant ensemble, breathing, moving and living frantically within the confines of their socially constructed world. He was a discreet, non-judgmental presence behind the camera, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions, to pick their own protagonists. All this would make him an ideal director for an un-blinking look into the rigid caste system, the mad pace and the back-stage drama of a ballet company. Yet something is lacking in The Company
Perhaps Altman had less passion for the subject matter then he did for the play between upper-class Brits and the men and women who serve them; perhaps he agreed to direct “The Company” as a favor to Neve Campbell, herself an ex-dancer, who was thrown off-course by an injury. Whatever the reason, the film suffers from a deathly lack of energy. With barely the shimmer of a plot, Altman relies on long, lovely shots of the dancers performing. Many of these scenes are breathtaking, almost reason enough to see the film, but audiences may be perplexed by the last number, a frantic, pseudo-mythic mishmash of ridiculous costumes and overwrought set pieces that, in the end, feels completely self-conscious. And it is frustratingly unclear as to whether this is intentional or not; it could be a thinly veiled critique of modern dance gone awry, but there is no build-up to this, no hint of irony. The dancers grumble and make fun of the choreographer but by the time they're in their ridiculous costumes, prancing around on stage they seemed resigned to it, and when the audience erupts in a standing ovation, viewers may shake their heads and wonder ‘what did I miss?’
And maybe we are missing