If you thought ballet was all timid girls on tiptoes in tutus, director Robert Altman proves you wrong with The Company, starring Neve Campbell. His typically detached, documentary-style look inside a dance troupe is all blood, sweat, and tears, but the end result is soggy and seriously limp. He brought you classics like Short Cuts and The Player, but dismissing small matters like 'plot' and 'drama' occasionally trips him up. Like his fashion 'exposé' Prêt À Porter, The Company meanders aimlessly until eventually falling flat on its face.
Among an ensemble cast of professional dancers, Neve Campbell holds her own as Loretta 'Ry' Ryan, a gifted member of the Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet who finds herself at a personal and
professional crossroads. A mesmerising performance of choreographer Lar Lubovitch's My Funny Valentine during a rainstorm in Chicago's Grant Park boosts her profile in the company. But Ry is unable to enjoy her moment as she's also in the thick of a messy break-up with her cheating boyfriend.
"STRICTLY FOR THE BALLET CROWD"
Cue the lightweight angst, something Campbell has pretty much cornered the market in. Well, her and the brooding James Franco, who plays trainee chef Josh. He steps in to sweep Ry off her feet with his best James Dean impression and a mean omelette. Throwing a little ham into the mix, Malcolm McDowell is the effeminate and egomaniacal director of the Joffrey, Alberto Antonelli. Second only to Franco's rebel-in-a-smock, McDowell serves up a terminally simplistic portrayal, complete with superfluous scarf tossing.
This one is strictly for the ballet crowd. While the many dance sequences are often striking, The Company is otherwise inert. The most dramatic twist involves a badly positioned ankle, and even that leads nowhere. To put it bluntly, a music box ballerina pirouetting "on point" has more direction than this film.