The Company

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Company Movie Poster Image
Excellent look at what goes into creating ballet.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 112 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Some tense scenes.

Sex

Sexual references and situations, nudity.

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language, locker-room nudity, and sexual references and situations. There are tense scenes and injuries. Characters drink and smoke.

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What's the story?

In Robert Altman's THE COMPANY, Neve Campbell, a former ballet dancer, stars as Ry, a member of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet. The movie opens with a stunning performance of a ballet called "Tensile Involvement," a postmodern angular variation on a maypole dance (or maybe the ribbons on a toeshoe). The story follows the ballet troupe on and offstage. Ry and the other dancers hold down jobs, deal with personal problems, and battle the limits of the physical world as they try to transcend their own sometimes reluctant bodies as well as the pulls of gravity, and of time. The company director breezily schmoozes and evades with just about everyone, but when he accepts an award he is bracingly honest about the way he was treated as a young boy who loved dance. Ry's non-dancer boyfriend shows that he brings the same kind of care, artistry, and precision to his work that she does to hers.

Is it any good?

Form follows content in Robert Altman's mesmerizing film; as in the lives of the ballet troupe it portrays, it is the dance that takes center stage. The rest of the characters' lives are glimpsed only around the edges. The result is intimate and moving, with dance numbers that are thrillingly filmed and backstage stories that are quietly observed. This is not about nutcrackers and tutus. This is about people who make the ultimate commitment to art and, especially, it is about the art that they make. Altman is not just showing us dancers here. He is showing us himself.

The off-stage scenes have a loose, documentary feel but they are as meticulously observed and as carefully positioned as a ballerina en pointe. The rehearsal scenes mix art and drama as the choreographers treat the primary dancers the way sculptors treat clay while the back-up dancers "marking" the moves off to the side. One technical point worth noting is that this is the first film to use a new post-production process called Darbee Vision, which adds depth and vivid color to video, and which is ideally suited for photographing the dance numbers, which are, after all, center stage.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the commitment required for the dancers and the people who run the company.

Movie details

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