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In The Company Of Women – Review


Release Date: Unconfirmed 2015 [USA]
Director: Kahlil Silver
Writer: Shogi Silver
Cast: Paul Eenhoorn - Shogi Silver - Clare O'Connor



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Posted March 16, 2015 by

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In The Company Of Women Review:

“How do you expect to be yourself around women without alcohol?”

A young, handsome, unnamed escort (Shogi Silver) asks this of Peter Boyle (Paul Eenhoorn), an older man who has hired the escort to serve as a wingman during a night on the town in Kahlil Silver’s new movie In the Company of Women. It is a line that is equal parts true and artificial, and it captures perfectly the slightly off-kilter world of modern-day seduction that the Silver Brothers are chronicling.

Peter is a sober-minded, lonely college professor who has recently lost his wife of 40 years through circumstances that are intentionally blurred throughout much of the story, and he has sought out professional help in the person of Silver’s paid escort. The escort, who seems ideally suited to the task of the pick-up, has his own issues, as the cuts and scrapes on his face attest.

Once the basic premise is laid out and the escort reluctantly agrees to help out the professor, the remainder of the movie is constructed around a handful of long dialogue sequences. The escort establishes the ground rules for the evening, which include constantly lying and never giving out a phone number. He also suggests a steady alcohol buzz, which is a problem for the teetotaler Peter. Next come two extended sequences – one at a reasonably classy bar, the other at a trendier nightclub – during which we will see plans put into action and undermined. There will be a resolution of sorts the following morning, and the men will part company.

In the hands of a lesser writer than Shogi Silver, this could be ponderous material. There is a good deal of philosophy and oration. Fortunately, Silver gives us plenty of interesting concepts and arguments to consider along the way. Who is the pursuer in a flirtation? Is monogamy an antiquated idea? The most intriguing concept of all, indeed, the concept on which the night out is thematically perched, is whether we seek out others in a desire for connection, or in a quest to better understand ourselves. The two men may or may not go home with someone, but they will each come away with a better understanding of what each needs to be happy.

Though the movie mentions “Women” in the title, this is not a story about women, and with the slight exception of Clare O’Connor’s Abbey, women do not come off especially well. This is very much a movie about men, and the real pleasure is in watching the two characters struggle for authorship of their evening out. Silver’s escort would seem to hold all the cards. He is plugged into the game they are playing and controls most of the interactions. But through the course of the night, Peter maintains his own more conservative sense of propriety. Of course, there will be blow-ups and fights, and emotions will rev high. But though there are predictable moments, Silver the screenwriter, never allows the story to spin off into cheap comedy or saccharine sentiment. These are basically good guys, but the story keeps its sharp edge right to the end.

In that regard, this is a far more nuanced and realistic version of the similarly-premised Crazy Stupid Love (2011), in which a young ladies man counsels an older sad sack. That movie, though pleasant enough as a forgettable comedy, has none of the insight that Company of Women offers. The Silver’s tone is closer to Dylan Kidd’s Roger Dodger (2002), though their narrative approach is more casual.

Most importantly, they have two very strong lead actors. Shogi Silver dominates the screen with self-assured handsomeness. He can flash a great smile or a withering raised eyebrow. At times, he comes off as a young Will Smith, but this movie does not call for any overt humor or mugging. Whether he could carry that off or not remains to be seen, but as the escort, he is more than up to the challenge. Playing opposite him, Eenhoorn delivers another of his totally affectless good guys. This is his third consecutive lonely older man who is trying to rebuild his life at a late date. As he did in This is Martin Bonner (2013, opposite Richmond Arquette) and Land Ho! (2014, opposite Earl Lynn Nelson), Eenhoorn plays the quiet straight man. He has a remarkable ability to enliven seemingly invisible men without ever resorting to puffery or party tricks. Peter’s internal intensity becomes the perfect counterpoint for the escort’s bravura.

In the Company of Women is not a perfect movie, nor is Silver’s screenplay without flaw. There are minor inconsistencies, such as when Peter objects to buying drinks in the bar after offering to shell out 20 grand for the escort’s services. And the scars on the escort’s face are a constant reminder that his boss had him beaten up just before sending him out on another job. It hardly seems like something the proprietor of an escort service would do.

Kahlil Silver seems a little too fond of the restless tight shot, which can become disorienting at times. This technique tends to work quite well at certain moments, such as when Peter actually does begin to drink, but its continual use becomes visually oppressive. And both Silvers may well be to blame for the overuse of flashback. We see a handful of black & white scenes from Peter’s distant past and several full-color moments spelling out the Escort’s more recent back story. Almost none of these were necessary, and they tend to pull focus away from the heart of the matter: one small but involving night out featuring two disparate men. A night which is summed up beautifully by an exchange they have the following morning:

PETER: How much do you remember from last night?

ESCORT: Too much. You?

PETER: (Laughing) A lot more than that.

In the Company of Women is not perfect, but it does offer a lot more than most Hollywood contrivances about love and age.


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Jonathan Eig
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