Picks and Pans Review: The Company

updated 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

DRAMA

Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell

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It's fitting that director Robert Altman's slender but beautiful new film should be about ballet: With his fluid genius for handling ensembles, he's already a master choreographer. The Company, made with the collaboration of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, began as a labor of love for Campbell, who once trained as a dancer. In addition to helping create the story and produce the film, she stars as a ballerina, the insecure protégée of the company's director (McDowell, imperious but charming). Virtually nothing happens in the film, which Altman calls a "faux documentary," and it ends with the company performing an awful fairy-tale number that looks like a dream ballet from Shrek. But the other dance scenes are superbly filmed dramas in their own right. On an open stage at night, Campbell performs a sinuous pas de deux with Joffrey dancer Domingo Rubio. A storm erupts. Campbell dances on—a torso de force. (PG-13)

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