From teeny-bopper films such as Centerstage and Save the Last Dance to the British Billy Elliot, ballet has proven inspirational for many writers and filmmakers.
But Robert Altman’s The Company is nothing like the previously mentioned films. It is graceful and beautiful in both subject matter and execution. And although the plot, or the actual lack of it, may seem to be somewhat odd, the film isn’t hurt by it.
In the way it is made, The Company resembles a mockumentary, or more like a fake documentary without the humor.
The film does not mock the world of ballet. Rather, it gives an accurate portrayal of the dance company’s world and those involved in it.
The film was co-written by its star, Neve Campbell, who made several requests for Altman to direct the film. After declining the proposition a number of times, Altman finally agreed to become the maker and producer of The Company.
Fortunately for Campbell, Altman’s style of filmmaking fits the script perfectly.
The story follows the fictional Joffery Ballet of Chicago. It vaguely focuses on one of its up-and-coming dancers, Ry (Campbell), and her relationship with a waiter (James Franco), almost the only person not involved in the world of the film’s company.
The action stretches over several months and productions but has no real coherent plot. It follows the day-to-day life and nothing beyond that.
The story teases the viewers with a few scattered conflicts, but never develops them into full plot lines. And, just as abruptly as the film begins, it ends.
What makes The Company so great are the incredibly well-shot and balanced ballet scenes.
Even those who don’t love the art form will appreciate the beautiful and graceful bodies of the dancers and the subtle moves that are captured on screen. The camera shots complement the dances and bring out the most beautiful views.
Those without long attention spans, however, may find the film slightly boring. It focuses on the art rather than the story.
It doesn’t build up conflict, and it shows reactions rather than actions.
The film, although visually stunning and incredibly appealing, does not hold one of the basic premises of fictional films – a coherent plot.
Were it a true documentary, the lack of plot may have been excusable and could have been dismissed as poor assembly of footage. In the case of The Company, this fictional account seems as though the screenplay is simply lacking.