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Running Time:
112 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for brief strong language, some nudity and sexual content

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
This is a drama-free tribute to the world of dance. It's a film to please fans of ballet and Neve Campbell, but not going to entertain most of the rest of us.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: The Making of The Company featurette; Extended dance sequence ; Isolated dance sequences from the film; The Passion of Dance featurette; Audio commentary with director Robert Altman and Neve Campbell; Theatrical previews

The Company
This is an almost plotless film about a season in the life of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet company. It came about because it was a pet project of the film’s star, Neve Campbell ("Scream," Scream 2," Scream 3"), who gets a story credit, but there's no story. It's just a series of dance performances interspersed with behind-the-scenes looks at the company's warm-ups and rehearsals. Director Robert Altman has kept most melodramatic elements which plague so many movies about the dance world, out of the film, but he's also stripped it of all drama, making it a just dull and lifeless. There are a few memorable moments when we get a chance to see what "The Company" could have been, but too often, the film spends its time concentrating on the everyday activities that go into the creation of a ballet, and they're not that interesting. There's no question that the more you know about the rigors of ballet life, the more you will appreciate the film, but if Altman was determined to show that, he should have made a documentary. It would surely have been better. And most of the dance sequences are uninspired. While they may be technically fine, they really don't translate well to the screen. The only storyline is about the preparation and rehearsals for a production of something called "The Blue Snake," which we finally get to see at the end. Along the way, we meet the pompous company director, Alberto Antonelli (Malcolm McDowell), and see brief glimpses into the personal life of Ry (Neve Campbell). Not only does Campbell star in the film, but she has credit as a co-writer and producer and she does all of her own dancing, and never seems out of place in the midst of the Joffret Ballet professionals. On those rare occasions when Altman's camera seeks her out, she acquits herself admirably. In one of the more interesting scenes we see Ry come home late one New Year's Eve, exhausted from her waitress job, to discover that her boyfriend (James Franco) is already asleep, after he's made a special dinner for the two of them. That's about as exciting as it gets. Meanwhile, the only other star of note, Malcolm McDowell, gives the production its only occasional bursts of energy. It's never quite clear whether he is supposed to be satirizing ballet directors or not, but his one-dimensional caricature makes it seem that way. Although Altman is one of the best of America's film directors, his list of credits demonstrates how inconsistent he really can be. For every "Gosford Park," or "Nashville," there's a "Dr. T and the Women," and "Ready to Wear." "The Company" isn't Altman at his worst, but it is certainly the director at his least inspired. For all but devout followers of ballet, this is a movie to be skipped.

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