The Company You Keep is a  fictional drama about former members of the violent radical leftist group, the Weather Underground (that actually existed).  A number of them went underground after a bank robbery  in Michigan committed by  some of its members in which a bank guard was killed.  The film opens thirty years afterwards when one of the perpetrators decides to give herself up.  The film follows the ramifications of this on other former members, of whom Robert Redford (who directed the film) is the main character, a respectable attorney, a widower and devoted father of an eleven year old girl.  The other main character is a young newspaperman (Shia LaBeouf)  who is trying to learn about the lawyer and break the story on him and his radical past.

It is important to note, I think, that the film is about its characters and the way the political ideas they held or hold affects how they live their lives,  not about the ideas themselves.  I think this is a wise move since a drama of ideas is quite difficult to pull off and this particular debate concerning 1960s and early 1970s radicalism would probably be boring to most contemporary audiences. But the film does what it does well.  Interestingly, it strikes me as, in a way, ultimately the triumph of family love and obligations over leftist ideology  Both of the former Weather Underground members who turn themselves in continue to espouse the ideas they held in the past and essentially surrender for the sake of family.  The film respects them without romanticizing them.

Things are arranged so there is a happy ending.  This requires two characters to act against their instincts which the film seems to me to depict as credible  though not inevitable.  The same basic material could have been handled in a darker or more ironical way but the choice made for this film is certainly defensible.  “The Company You Keep” is an adult drama that may not be long remembered, but that is engaging and provides a welcome change from the cartoonish action thrillers and silly farces that seem to be prevalent in cinema today.

A postscript:  Brit Marling, who has directed some films herself  (see,  plays one of the secondary characters.  Her face is beautiful in a somewhat unconventional way and, given the  right roles, could become iconic.