At first glance this movie is a strange beast. Not quite drama, not documentary, not even docudrama. Maybe it can best be described as a series of slightly fictionalized vignettes that follows a few months in a real-world ballet company. Despite the lack of plot, high drama, character development, or other things we usually expect from movies, The Company never fails to be fascinating in its portrayal of the lives of the dancers and the inner-workings of their profession.
The filmmaker's restrained approach gave the movie a sense of realness absent in conventional dramas, yet doesn't dilute it's power. After all, the events depicted really happened, and the dancers on screen are dancers in real life. The movie makes its points with small, finely-observed moments that says much. For example, when a star dancer snap her Achilles Tendon, she was quickly replaced. As she was carried off stage it seemed that's the last we will see of her since that injury effectively ends her career. But later at a public performance we see her limping to the side of the stage to watch her replacement dancing in her role.
The reasons for these people's tremendous dedication were never explicitly articulated in the movie. Some find this as a lack of depth. But I feel words are not necessary, nor adequate, to illustrate it. Simply take a look at the power and the grace the dancers display on stage, one would understand their passion and sacrifice.
As a bonus, the DVD has a worthwhile commentary track, in which Altman and Campell discuss the the actual Joffrey company and its dancers in relation to the movie. Interesting and informative.