Redford acts in, directs thriller about ex-radical

Thu Sep 6, 2012 1:25pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - In "All the President's Men", Robert Redford famously played a reporter hunting clues that led to President Richard Nixon's downfall. In "The Company You Keep", the Oscar winner is the one who is hunted by a journalist, this time played by Shia LaBeouf.

Unlike the 1976 account of the Watergate scandal, The Company You Keep is a fictional thriller based on a 2003 novel by Neil Gordon, and follows a former leftwing American militant whose past comes back to haunt him.

Redford plays Jim Grant, a respectable lawyer and widower with a young daughter whose life is thrown into turmoil when his secret identity, as a member of The Weather Underground decades earlier, is revealed by a tenacious reporter.

LaBeouf, one of several up-and-coming stars to feature at this year's Venice film festival where the movie has its world premiere on Thursday, appears as Ben Shepard, an ambitious writer working for a struggling local newspaper.

When an ex-member of The Weather Underground (Susan Sarandon) gives herself up, he uncovers a network of former militants who went into hiding in the 1970s and are still wanted by the FBI for a robbery and murder.

One of those is Grant, who is forced to leave his daughter behind to search out the one person who may be able to save him.

"Fundamentally, the film is pretty much about what a man will do for a child, what a man will do to have the love of his daughter preserved," Redford told reporters after the movie was screened to the media ahead of its red carpet premiere.

Also starring Julie Christie, the two-hour movie explores the ideals of youth and whether they should be sacrificed for the sake of love and family.   Continued...

Actor Robert Redford arrives to attend a photocall for the movie "The company you keep" at the 69th Venice Film Festival in Venice September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri