Preview by: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Robert Altman audio commentary; 'The
Passion of Dance' featurette; 'The Making of The Company' featurette.
ROBERT Altman continues to operate as one of the most respected
directors in the industry, and if the US reaction to his latest,
The Company, is anything to go by, he has not lost his touch.
Neve Campbell stars as a talented ballet dancer, whose boyfriend
(James Franco) and other interests distract her from becoming
a principal performer in her ballet company, run by the demanding
Alberto (Malcolm McDowell).
But what sounds a little tedious, appears to be another of Altmans
The directors vision for the film is described as an
extremely intimate one, given that he intends to show viewers
the difficult daily work, the intense pressures of performance,
the richly textured behaviours of the dancers and the sheer beauty
of dance itself.
A labour of love for both Altman and Campbell (who produces),
The Company was shot in an unprecedented way, using the complete
co-operation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
Screenwriter, Barbara Turner (Pollack), spent over two years
on and off with the Joffrey, observing and writing, and it is
the Joffrey dancers who constitute the core of Altmans ensemble.
Indeed, only former Scream star, Campbell, who was once part of
the National Ballet School of Canada, is not a member of the Joffrey,
such was the determination to make things as authentic as possible.
For Campbel, especially, The Company marks the culmination of
a long-held dream to create a nuanced and realistic film about
a world for which she has deep and abiding affection, and she
worked intensively with the Joffrey while preparing for the role,
and performs all of her own dancing.
The result is, according to Altman, a love letter to artists
who work in this singularly difficult and universally expressive
medium, to the people who make the performance possible, and to
Widespread acclaim greeted the US release of The Company as part
of the busy Christmas schedule.
The New York Post, for instance, wrote that Altman
presents a fly-on-the-wall insight into the lives of a group of
people whose public face is one of unadulterated grace and beauty
- but whose private existence is as disorderly as anyone's.
While the Hollywood Reporter described it as a wonderfully
vivid and engaging theatrical experience.
And the New York Times stated that Robert Altman's
new film, which follows a Chicago-based dance troupe through a
few months of its regular season, is enjoyably lithe and droll.
The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, noted that the film
achieves that poetry of motion and lyrical delight musical films
always strive for but rarely capture.
While the Los Angeles Times opined that it makes
the world of ballet, seen by so many as rarefied, accessible and
exciting, a rigorous art that yields breathtaking results.
Variety, meanwhile, observed that Altman takes an
elegant, appealingly unemphatic look at the world of ballet.
And the New York Daily News wrote that Altman's
reverence for ballet, respect for the dancing life, and even his
voyeuristic view of the ballerinas' bodies carry the viewer along
Of the few negative notices, Village Voice wrote that
it is essentially a doodle interrupted by nouveau ballet
performances, the entire contraption assembled to please the ego
of Neve Campbell.
And E! Online concluded that, its just that
for a work of 'fiction,' it seems more like a boring PBS documentary.
But Newsday concludes this round-up in emphatic fashion,
by stating that the dancing is fantastic; we get glimpses
of the ballet dancer's life, the extra jobs, the injuries, the
sex, the noise, the heartbreak and the egos, but the drama in
The Company is all in the legs and the feet.