Checking The Weather Underground
Directed by and starring Robert Redford, this movie is a cat and mouse game about a former social activist who gets exposed by a young journalist, played by Shia LaBeouf. Each character struggles with a moral dilemma in this film where the line between right and wrong is constantly being redrawn.
4 Stars: Perfect for fans of Robert Redford
Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf), is a small-time journalist struggling to make a name for himself in the dying world of printed news. When he stumbles upon a story about the arrest of a local woman named Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), who’s been living under an alias, he gets fired up.
Solarz was a member of the radical anti-Vietnam war group the Weather Underground and is arrested for her role in a murder in the 1960s. After she grants Shepard an interview, Shepard plans to uncover the entire cell of wanted criminals.
Shepard’s diligent research leads him to local lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford), who also turns out to be wanted by the FBI for his involvement in the terrorist group. Grant flees town, leaving his daughter with his brother for safekeeping. But Shepard thinks there’s more to Grant’s story than a simple guilty verdict.
Meanwhile, Grant seeks out his former lover and activist cohort, Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie). Mimi may have the knowledge to clear Grant’s name, but whether or not she’s willing to help him is unclear.
The scenes with Robert Redford and Julie Christie are electric. Christie in particular plays a hardened woman with no desire to compromise her strong convictions, even when her own family’s welfare is at stake. This is a portrait of a woman rarely seen on film and Christie nails it.
Shia LaBeouf adds charm and youthfulness to this puzzling drama that doesn’t take a stand morally, but lets the audience decide for themselves the difference between right and wrong.
Bottom line: This is an intriguing drama with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. Redford and Christie truly shine in their complicated roles and share steamy chemistry.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics