A Pretty Decent Proposal

robbie redd

Robert Redford (Photo: Ken Kurson)

You know how you’re supposed to be suicidal when someone refers to Robert De Niro as “Bobby” because you know you’ll never be that intimate with someone so vitally important to the cultural life of the city? Well, the same is true of Robert Redford, who was called to the stage by Sony Pictures honcho Tom Bernard at last night’s premiere of The Company You Keep.

“Bob is just going to say a few words,” and that’s exactly what Bob did. Before a crowd that included Judd Hirsch, Camilla Hansen, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Kenneth Cole, Anna Chlumsky and Zosia Mamet, Mr. Redford thanked co-stars Stanley Tucci, Brit Marling and a brilliant little girl he spotted singing Puccini, Jackie Evancho. Then he sat down to enjoy the movie. As the lights dimmed and it began to play, Mr. Redford shot back up and shouted in the dark, “I forgot, Shia LaBeouf is here, too.” Everyone laughed, including a Unabomber looking LaBeouf, and it was exactly as endearing as you’d expect.

It’s basically impossible not to like Robert Redford, even as I felt pretty sure I was the only one of 300 or so people in the MOMA screening room who was rooting for the FBI the whole time. The movie itself has its head screwed on pretty straight. It deals with a complicated subject in a complicated way and arrives at essentially the right answers, within the confines of a 2-hour movie that covers perhaps the most divisive periods in American history since the Civil War.

I pre-gamed by watching Three Days of the Condor but this movie is at least as much about the state of journalism (another subject the actor and director has covered plenty) as it is about radical politics and family responsibilities. The news today that former Weather Underground armored car robber Kathy Boudin now holds prestigious posts at both Columbia and NYU Law School puts into stark focus how quickly we like to forget inconvenient facts (like the nine children who grew up without fathers because of Ms. Boudin and her radically chic comrades).

Mr. Redford deserves the praise he’s getting for The Company You Keep (Rex Reed gives it four stars) and it was a treat to watch him get it.