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The Chicago Traveler

Friday Film: The Company

by Matt B on February 1st, 2008

I enjoy dancing and seeing dance performances, but I'll admit I'm usually at a loss when it comes to ballet. However, there are some incredibly beautiful pieces in The Company, a 2003 musical drama about the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. However, the film also makes sure to point out the pain behind the beauty, as we get a close look at all the blisters, sprains, and tears that are part of a dancer's everyday life.

The Company (2003)
Directed by: Robert Altman
Produced by: Robert Altman
Joshua Astrachan
Neve Campbell
Pamela Koffler
David Levy
David Ley
Christine Vachon
Starring: Neve Campbell
Malcolm McDowell
James Franco
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
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The Company may be a difficult movie to watch because, naturally, you want to look for and connect with a protagonist. However, there is no one main character. The film truly is about the company as a whole, comprised of stories gathered from actual dancers, choreographers, and staff of the Joffrey Ballet. And while Neve Campbell appears in and produces the movie, many of the roles are played by real-life company members. Malcolm McDowell plays the ballet company's artistic director, a character based on Gerald Arpino.

The film isn't about the director, the dancers, or the choreographers though. It's about the performance. The movie is full of ballet rehearsals and performances, and the characters' subplots are pushed to the wayside. The few pieces of dialogue from the actors are droll and boring, emphasizing how in the world of ballet, the dance is the highest priority. Tendons snap, dancers work grueling hours, divas throw fits, but in the end, the show must go on. Every single one of the dance sequences is superb, capturing my full attention and awe.

The Company provides little in the way of plot and storytelling, but it is a rather authentic look at the world of dance and the far-from-glamorous life backstage.

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POSTED IN: Entertainment, Filmed in Chicago

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