Robert Redford’s political thriller The Company You Keep gets a Toronto International Film Festival gala presentation tonight at Roy Thomson Hall. Filmed last fall in the Vancouver area, The Company You Keep stars Redford as widowed civil rights lawyer Jim Grant, who’s really a former Weather Underground militant and fugitive wanted for over thirty years for a bank robbery and murder of a guard. Shia LaBeouf is the young reporter Ben Shepard who exposes Grant’s secret, forcing him to go on the run to find the one person who can clear his name before he’s caught by the FBI in a nation-wide manhunt.
The official TIFF trailer opens with these typed words: “In 1969 a group of radical anti-war protestors began a campaign of bombings on American soil. They were called the “Weather Underground”. Some were sent to prison. A few … vanished…until today.” Then we see fugitive Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) arrested at a gas station. Ben Shepard (LaBeouf), a reporter for a struggling local newspaper, watches this on TV — Breaking News: Sharon Solarz Arrested. Jim Grant reads about the arrest in the newspaper — Weather Underground Most Wanted Caught — at home with his young daughter (Jackie Evancho, an 11-year-old finalist on America’s Got Talent): “What’s wrong? You look weird.” Grant: “I’m fine, honey. ” With help from an old college friend now FBI agent (Anna Kendrick), Shepard begins to focus on Grant, catching up with him at a shoot filmed in Gastown. Shepard: “Mr. Grant, I’m just trying to put the pieces together.” Grant: “I don’t have time for this…”
But Grant decides to run. He tells his daughter: “We’re not going to school. We’re gonna go on a little trip.” Wearing a baseball cap, Grant (Redford) and his daughter (Evancho) check into the remodeled Hotel Georgia complex downtown made to look like a Manhattan hotel with prop NY cabs coming and going.
The trailer continues with more typed words: “One reporter. Has discovered a secret. That can connect them all. And reveal the truth.” Shepard: “I don’t think he’s running away. I think he’s trying to clear his name.”
The biggest and most public scenes in Vancouver took place at the west entrance to the Vancouver Art Gallery (the former Vancouver Court House) with Grant (Redford) scrummed by media as he gets into a car driven by Chris Cooper. Reporter Shepard (LaBeouf) is there but at a remove from the scrum.