Robert Altman has directed many movies, most of them mediocre and a few arguably great. Although one critic at this screening dismissed all of Altman’s movies, there are some that MOVIEGUIDE® appreciates, but THE COMPANY is not one of them. It is a disjointed, aimless, post-modern, deconstructionist, pro-Hindu, ensemble piece with very few interesting traits. All of this is being said by one who likes ballet. In fact, it should be mentioned that, if you do like ballet, go see THE NUTRCRACKER, rent the 1948 movie THE RED SHOES, or wait for the Leningrad-Kirov Ballet to come to town.
THE COMPANY starts with a post-modern geometric ballet, somewhat sexual and disjointed. The essence of whatever story there is revolves around Ry, played very well by Neve Campbell, who is an up and coming dancer in the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. Ry’s partner in the ballet falls for another ballerina. Ry falls for a gourmet cook. Malcolm McDowell as Mr. A, the director of the ballet, blusters his way through several scenes. Then, an effete Canadian director assembles the company to perform what he thinks is a brilliant ode to Shiva and the divine chakra located in the spiinbe, but the ballet looks more like a mess with a few sexual scenes thrown into the mix.
In the movie, there are nude ballerinas in the dressing rooms, homosexual ballerinas, cross-dressing ballerinas, a Christmas party that mocks everything and everybody, a vignette in a flophouse where many of the ballerinas sleep on the floor, and a disjointed series of scenes with lackluster dialogue. To stay awake, you may have to bring a double expresso.
Although the movie is aimless, it comes back to full circle, which reinforces its Hindu theme. What was astounding about this movie is a complete lack of reference to the classical western history of ballet with its Judeo-Christian roots. This ballet company is so far adrift, it has no roots. One of the top secular reviewers walked out two-thirds into the movie, something MOVIEGUIDE® never does even when we’re being tortured by such boredom.
There are people who are going to give THE COMPABNY a good review. They are probably as vacuous as the director of the Hindu ballet.
The best part of the movie is Robert Altman’s statement in the production notes for the movie, “Here are world-class artists who, for the most part, are poorly paid and live hand to mouth; often in very unglamorous conditions. They take immaculate care of their bodies while smoking countless cigarettes, downing endless cups of coffee, and working punishing hours. Their daily reality includes bloody feet, bludgeoned ambitions, and the work itself – in all its demanding beauty.” His statement reminds me of what it was like growing up on Broadway. If only Mr. Altman had made that movie. . .
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SUMMARY: THE COMPANY is a disjointed fictional tale about the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, an up-and-coming dancer played by Neve Campbell, and two ballet directors. It is a disjointed, aimless, post-modern, deconstructionist, pro-Hindu, ensemble piece with very few interesting traits, even for those who like ballet.
(PaPa, Ho, Ab, LLL, S, NN, A, D, M) Strong pagan worldview with many references to Hinduism, including a ballet based on Hindu mythic characters, T-shirts with Shiva on them, the serpent as a central theme, and pagan rituals within the ballet, as well as homosexuals within a ballet company, and a Christmas party mocks everything and everybody; 9 obscenities and 5 profanities; no violence; transsexuals, cross-dressing, homosexuals, before and after fornication scenes, and woman asks for condom so she can mix it up in a group sleep over; upper female nudity in dressing room scenes and upper male nudity; drinking; smoking; and, group living arrangements, jealousy, and sordid nightclub scenes.