The Company deals with a fictional season in the life of the Joffrey Ballet ofChicago. In between elaborately filmed ballet numbers, we see the behind the scenes strugglesand preparations, injuries and heartbreaks. The principle characters are Neve Cambell as a dancerwhose moment in the spotlight has finally come. She has attracted the attention of flaky artisticdirector Malcolm McDowell, and finds relief in arms of restaurant chef James Franco.
In some ways,…the above synopsis is misleading: it suggest there is a more of a plot here thanthere is. The Company is not plot-driven (which isn’t a surprise when one is consideringa Robert Altman movie), but neither is it character-driven. You will learn very little about theprinciple character than I have already described. The aim of Altman and Campbell (whooriginated the project) was not to make a dramatic film. What they have produced instead issomething that is a very close mimic of a documentary. The authenticity is admirable, but sincevirtually all the benefits of fiction have been tossed out the window, I can’t help but wonder whythey didn’t go the whole hog and flat-out make a documentary. Another question: is there anyoneout there whose suspension of disbelief is strong enough to let them buy Malcolm McDowellas an Italian-American?
The 5.1 audio has much to recommend it. The environmental effects aren’t constant, but arevery well executed when present. A particular highlight is the thunderstorm that strikes duringan open-air performance. The placement of the effects is very good, and one notices thisespecially with the ballet audiences: when the camera is in the audience, applause comes fromthe rear speakers; when the camera is on stage, the applause is more front-heavy. The musiccomes off very well too.
The picture is variable. The ballet sequences looks marvellous, with fabulous blacks,contrasts and colours. The image here is very sharp. The other scenes tend to be somewhatgrainier, and the picture here is a bit soft, especially around the edges.
Altman and Campbell do the commentary together. Their discussion is a good one, andmakes the goals of the film very clear. The two featurettes are the usual making-of promotionalfare, though the extremely short “The Passion of Dance” focuses on the Joffrey company. Thereis an extended dance sequence provided, along with a feature that lets you watch all of the dancesequences from the film one after the other (the last one is particularly pretentious). Finally, thereare trailers for the feature and nine other releases. The menu’s main screen and intro are animatedand scored.
Interesting work, but not quite compelling in the way that an actual documentary, or a morestrongly fictionalized piece, would be.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- “The Passion of Dance” Featurette
- Extended Dance Sequence
- Isolated Dance Sequences